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Wednesday November 21, 2007

I frankly don’t understand the pros and cons of Charlie Crist’s gambling deal with the Seminole tribe. (And I’m not sure I have much sympathy for the whining pari-mutuels.) The Miami Herald, on the other hand, is vehemently opposed to the pact. Update: But certainly not everyone agrees.

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Wednesday October 24, 2007

Great documentary about the sugar industry. Stuff about Florida is mixed in throughout, though the fucked up Haiti/Dominican Republic situation steals the show. Update: The link is fixed.

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Tuesday October 2, 2007

What's up with mandatory PIP car insurance?

The state’s law requiring personal injury protection (PIP) insurance expired Sunday, though the fight is not quite over yet. What does this mean?

First, a primer on the exact changes (and please correct me if I’m wrong leaving out something important). The PIP law required every driver to carry $10,000 worth of protection for anyone injured by or in their car. It made Florida a “no-fault” state: if you’re in a crash with another driver, each drivers’ insurance covers his medical expenses, regardless of who caused the accident. Hence “no fault.” The logic behind this is that it allows everyone to get medical treatment without bureaucratic worries, and theoretically keeps costs low by minimizing lawsuits.

The downside of this is that if you already have medical insurance, you’re paying for double coverage. Many people who are in accidents that are not their fault also unsurprisingly report their insurance rates going up afterwards. So, the new law allows drivers to carry insurance for property damage only, should they so desire. Under the new system, if you’re in an accident, your regular health insurance will pay your medical bills, presumably recovering their costs from the person who caused the accident, in court if necessary.

This would be great if 1) everyone had health insurance and 2) everyone was smart enough to get insurance to cover injury they cause to others. To the extent that those two things are not true (only 80% of Florida residents currently have medical coverage; and don’t even get me started on #2), the new law is going to wreak havoc. The upside is savings for those that are properly insured, yet drive carefully enough not to actually cause accidents. More importantly, it will tend to hasten a state of affairs where we are forced to confront the larger medical/insurance disaster facing the country, as a much larger proportion of car accident victims arriving in hospitals will have no insurance covering them.

This highlights the real clusterfuck aspect of this change, which is that medical/insurance lobbies are essentially behind both sides of the issue. On the anti-PIP side are companies who are concerned about insurance fraud under the old system, which could easily pump money out of the system, $10,000 at a time, with simple staged accidents and shady doctors. On the other side are the doctors and hospitals worrying about the uninsured trauma cases they’ll be forced (god forbid) to treat and not be able to collect payment for.

That these are the two sides battling over something this important (rather then what’s best for people who’s just been in a serious car accident) is a sure sign of a broken system. I’m almost tempted to let them do away with it, let the situation come to a head, and then fix it from the bottom up.

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Wednesday June 6, 2007

How beneficial was the Super Bowl for South Florida? South Florida CEO magazine takes 2,000 words to say that nobody knows. The high estimates are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. One thing’s for sure — the indirect TV publicity is priceless. (Ok, not priceless: “the report by Sports Management Research calculates that just the region’s exposure thanks to the Super Bowl — Miami, South Florida and Dolphin Stadium hometown Miami Gardens were mentioned 65 times during the game broadcast — was worth $48.5 million.”)

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