Episcopal Church leader urges faith leaders to speak out on crisis caused by new auto no-fault law
A high profile lay leader in the Episcopal Church says Michigan auto accident survivors with catastrophic injuries need help from religious organizations.
Thousands of Michiganders are losing care due to the state's new auto no-fault law, which cuts payments to caregivers by nearly half, forcing a collapse of the long term care provider industry.
Bonnie Anderson is a former President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church. She said the crisis is getting worse by the day.
"I thought that the auto no-fault would be fixed by now," said Anderson, who is also the mother of a son who was severely injured in a car accident. "I'd hoped it would be fixed by now. But it's not. It went way too far."
Many auto accident survivors are now trying to make do with a fraction of the care they had before. Some have lost their overnight home care; others cannot get to doctor's appointments because insurance companies won't pay for transportation.
Some survivors who need 24/7 care to survive have been dropped off at hospitals after they lost their home care. In some cases, children are now taking care of injured parents. Many long term care providers are also going into debt in order to stay in business — in some cases, the owners bankrolling the business with their own retirement funds — rather than leave vulnerable clients stranded without care.
Anderson said it's a tenet common to most religious organizations to help the helpless. She is organizing leaders of synagogues, mosques, and churches to urge the state Legislature to respond to the crisis.
"I want anyone that has leadership positions in their religious organizations to join together and become a coalition for fixing the no-fault reform and helping people that need the help," she said.
Bills have been introduced in the state House and Senate to fix the law, but Republican leaders haven't allowed the bills to move forward.
Anderson said she's shocked that most people have heard nothing about the crisis. Instead, much of the recent media attention on the auto no-fault law has been focused on the refund checks that the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association plans to pull from its surplus and send to insured drivers, at Governor Gretchen Whitmer's request.
The MCCA oversees the fund that pays for care for the most catastrophically injured auto accident survivors in Michigan.
The MCCA said in a statement when it announced it would issue the checks, that "the goal is to issue the largest possible refunds to consumers while maintaining sufficient funds to ensure high-quality care to those who have been catastrophically injured."
Advocates for survivors say sending checks to drivers now, during an election year, is a political calculation to convince voters that the new law is lowering insurance rates more than it actually is.