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No-fault's impact: 40 more severely injured car crash patients lose medical care

Grieving relatives of car crash victims at no-fault memorial service
Tracy Samilton
/
Michigan Radio
Linda St. Amant, Owen Perlman, and Angelina Bourdage at a memorial service for car crash victims who died after losing care due to changes to Michigan's no-fault insurance law.

Another home care agency is closing its doors to car crash patients. That leaves another 40 severely disabled people scrambling to find the medical care they need to live.

After the 2019 no-fault law cut payments for care for catastrophically injured accident patients by nearly half, Bob Mlynarek said he and his co-owners spent more than a million dollars of their own savings to keep their company, 1st Call Home Healthcare, open, hoping the law would be fixed. 

Mlynarek attended weekly rallies in the state capitol with survivors, and he met with legislator after legislator, urging them to make changes to the no-fault law before it was too late.

Now, for his company, and his former patients, it is too late. 1st Call Home Healthcare was forced to discharge the patients on June 30.

With almost no nursing homes in Michigan able to accept patients with such intensive needs, Mlynarek said there are only two difficult options for those patients.

"Either the hospital, or family is going to try to take care of them on their own," he said. "But these are patients that have daily medical needs — intermittent catheterizations, bowel programs, tube feedings, trach care. And they don't have the knowledge and the training to do this type of care. They have to quit their jobs to do it. So now you have people losing their jobs and their income. This is a disgrace."

Other agencies are expected to close this month as well. More than 1,500 patients have lost medically necessary care, and at least seven have died after losing that care. More than 97 companies have either discharged their auto accident patients, or shut their doors altogether.

Typically, the insurance industry and Republican leaders in the House and Senate have either ignored or downplayed the law's impact on survivors and their families.

House Speaker Jason Wentworth said earlier this year that "it's time to move on" from efforts to change the law, and he indicated he would not permit any bills to fix the law to come to a vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said last year he was waiting for data on outcomes of the law, but in recent months, as evidence of the law's impacts has mounted, he has been silent on the issue.

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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