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Washtenaw County commissioners urge state legislature to fully repeal 2019 auto no-fault law

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
Kelly Miller, who became a quadriplegic after a car crash, is taken to the hospital after her home care agency said it could no longer afford to care for her. She stayed in the hospital for three months and then returned home against her doctor's advice, with only a few family members to care for her. Her physician says the loss of professional care puts her life at grave risk.

Washtenaw County Commissioners have called for a complete repeal of the 2019 auto no-fault law.

Commissioner Andy LaBarre drafted the resolution, which was adopted unanimously.

He said the law is doing great harm.

"Severe and negative outcomes for individuals who have essentially lost protections with this law being put in place," he said. "It's drastic enough that we think it warrants essentially re-doing it."

The no-fault law cuts payments nearly in half to health care companies that care for car crash patients.

The providers are going out of business, leaving many patients with no care. There are more than 18,000 survivors with catastrophic injuries from car crashes at risk of losing all or some of their care.

Some of these patients have already died after being removed from their homes and placed in nursing homes.

The resolution notes that state Republican leaders said they would fix the law after it passed in 2019, but they have failed to take action on any of the bills that have been introduced to keep people from losing care.

That includes a bill to fully repeal the law introduced by Democratic State Representative Yousef Rabhi.

"This ‘reform’ was a tragic mistake from the beginning," said Rabhi.

Lobbyists for health care providers and advocates for survivors say key legislators — namely State Senators Mike Shirkey, Lana Theis and Aric Nesbitt, and State Representatives Daire Rendon and Jason Wentworth — are blocking any move to fix the law.

The legislators did not respond to a request for comment.

The law has not only taken care away from thousands of survivors, but it has failed to lower car insurance rates in Michigan.

The state has returned to the No. 1 most expensive for car insurance in the nation, after briefly dipping to No. 2, according to the latest Insure.com report, and most insurance companies in Michigan plan to raise rates even more this summer, some as high as 12%.

Insurance companies have also returned to the practice of charging a surcharge penalty for people whose insurance coverage lapsed.

In one example, Michigan's Department of Insurance and Financial Services approved an extra 20% rate penalty for people wishing to buy coverage from Allstate after a period of not having insurance. The penalty went into effect in March.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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