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Hundreds rally at state Capitol for bills to restore access to care for car crash survivors

State Senator Sarah Anthony — one of the sponsors of bills to restore access to care for people with catastrophic injuries from car crashes — addresses hundreds at a rally in front of the the state Capitol on October 3, 2023.
Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
State Senator Sarah Anthony — one of the sponsors of bills to restore access to care for people with catastrophic injuries from car crashes - addresses hundreds at rally in front of the the state Capitol on October 3, 2023.

Hundreds of people rallied at the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday to support bills that could restore access to care for severely injured car crash survivors.

The rally comes one day before the state Senate holds a hearing on the bills, SB 530 and SB 531.

October 3, 2023 rally at state Capitol to support SB 530 and 531 to amend 2019 auto no fault law
Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
People gather at an October 3, 2023, rally at the Michigan Capitol to support Senate bills 530 and 531 to amend the state's 2019 auto no-fault law

State Senators Mary Cavanagh and Sarah Anthony, both Democrats, sponsored the bills, which would amend the state's 2019 auto no-fault law. The law has resulted in thousands of people losing access to care deemed medically necessary, by setting such low fees for medical services, like home care and residential rehabilitation treatment, that many providers could not afford to continue providing the care.

Democratic state Representative Tyrone Carter said Detroiters were promised more affordable car insurance after the 2019 auto no-fault law passed. But that didn't happen. He says his policy is $6,000 a year — twice that of a friend just a mile past the city limits.

And he said the law's supporters also said no crash survivors would lose care. That didn't happen either.

"Crash victims have been kicked out of their homes," he told rally attendees. "They've been dropped off at nursing homes and emergency rooms. They've had their dignity ripped away because of something that we did!"

Also appearing at the rally: Red Wings hockey legend Vladimir Konstantinov, who suffered catastrophic injuries in a car crash in 1997, just days after the team won the Stanley Cup.

Vladimir Konstantinov
Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
Vladimir Konstantinov at October, 2023 rally in support of bills to restore access to care for thousands of car crash victims with catastrophic injuries

Konstantinov receives care from Arcadia; Theresa Ruediselli is the company's director of operations for the state of Michigan.

Noting the law slashed payments for medical care for crash victims nearly in half, Ruediselli said that means insurance companies can pay providers only $12 to $14 an hour for a home care aide, which isn't enough to even cover the aide's wages, let alone company overhead.

"We cannot even afford to care for the most vulnerable. This must be fixed," she said. "Too many have suffered and too many have died."

The rally included a short ceremony of remembrance for people who died after losing their care, including Brian Woodward, a beloved survivor activist who died the morning that the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that crash victims like him — those injured before the 2019 law passed — were still entitled to care at reasonable rates.

Those injured after the law passed, however, do not have access to the same care because of the fee cuts, which providers say are indeed unreasonable.

Jen Brown told the crowd her mother desperately wanted to remain in her home after she was severely injured in a car crash, but the family couldn't find a company that could provide caregivers. So her mother had to move into a nursing home, where she cannot get the one-on-one care she needs and cannot participate in her community as she once did.

Brown said those who helped pass the law made a terrible mistake.

"I speak to each and every one of them who participated in this unethical and immoral decision," she said. "You harmed and decimated the lives of families of people you were charged with protecting."

The Insurance Alliance of Michigan, an industry group, said the bills would take the state back to what it claims was massive overcharging by providers. The trade group said the 2019 auto no-fault law saved drivers money — although Michigan is still among the most expensive states in the nation for car insurance.

IAM also said if the bills pass, insurance companies will raise car insurance rates at a time when Michiganders can least afford it.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Konstantinov receives care from Advisicare. He actually receives care from Arcadia.

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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