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New legislative effort underway to stop no-fault law from leaving car crash survivors without care

car crash survivors auto no fault
Tracy Samilton
/
Michigan Radio
Catastrophically injured car accident survivors gather at the State Capitol on January 13, 2022 to ask for relief from reformed no fault insurance law

Republican State Rep. Phil Green said the reformed auto no-fault law has created a "monumental crisis."

The law cut payments to agencies that care for car crash survivors by nearly half. Many agencies are going broke and leaving their former clients scrambling for care.

An independent study found that more than 1,500 car crash survivors with severe injuries have lost care when their agencies closed.

Several have died after being transferred from their homes to inadequately staffed nursing homes.

Republican House leadership has declined to schedule similar bills for hearings, but some members of the party are now breaking ranks.

Green's bill has 57 co-sponsors including 14 Republicans. He said he is urging House Speaker Jason Wentworth to make sure it gets a hearing.

"He told us three years ago that there would be follow up bills. I believe the Speaker needs to hold to his word, and 'fix the fix.'"

Green, a former pastor, said the law is having a ripple effect on the entire health care industry.

Hospitals are having increasing difficulty finding places to discharge new car crash patients, because so many agencies have closed. And Green said some of the agencies that care for crash survivors also care for Medicaid and Medicare patients, so when those agencies close, other patients can lose care, too.

The Insurance Alliance of Michigan opposes Green's bill. The group said changing the law would jeopardize the $400 checks that the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association plans to send every car owner in Michigan this spring, and it said insurance rates — which already went up after the law was passed in 2019 — could go up even more.

The $400 would come from the catastrophic claims association's surplus, which has grown partly because the fund the reformed law allows it to no longer pay for long-term care for survivors with brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.

Advocates for car crash survivors have called the plan to send one-time checks a blatant effort to distract Michigan citizens from the consequences of the law, as well as the state's failure to lower insurance rates.

Proponents of the law, including Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, predicted it would make car insurance in the state affordable.

Instead, the state has only dropped from most expensive in the nation for car insurance, to second-most expensive.

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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