LANSING, Michigan — Michigan has been known for its sky-high auto insurance prices for decades — the goal of our No-Fault Motoring Reform Act, signed in 2019, was to reduce drivers’ insurance costs, but proponents say it had unintended consequences for crash survivors trying to receive medical care.
After nearly a year and a half of legislation aimed at addressing their concerns failed to take effect in the Capitol, supporters are now cautiously optimistic that the newly elected lawmakers will finally make a difference.
There are approximately 18,000 Michiganders who are currently receiving medical benefits under their Auto No Fault policies.
Under the new law, which went into effect July 2, 2021, all medical services not already covered under our federal Medicare law, including home caregivers and transportation to medical services, will be reimbursed by insurance companies at only 55% of what they were back in 2019. The law also limits the number of hours family members can care for to just 56 hours per week.
These new restrictions have forced several local care providers to either stop accepting patients who were receiving services through no fault of their own or to close their doors entirely.
Since the law’s enactment, Lansing has introduced a handful of bills aimed at changing fee schedules and guaranteeing survivors access to medical care.
They have all languished in committees without substantive consideration.
Supporters accused the Republican leadership of refusing to vote on any of the bills.
After Tuesday’s election, Michigan will soon have a majority Democratic House and Senate for the first time in decades.
“We have a governor who has said several times that she will sign a bill that gets on her desk, that she wants a bill that gets on her desk that calls for a narrow resolution to the nursing crisis, Tom Judd, President of the Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council said Monday.
“Well, her party is in the majority now… we have no more excuses. We need to take this bill to the governor.”
The Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion in late August saying changes to Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law should not apply retrospectively to people who purchased policies who were infringed before the law was signed into law in 2019.
The case was brought against USAA Casualty Insurance by accident survivors Ellen Andary of East Lansing, Philip Krueger of Ann Arbor and the Eisenhower Center, a brain injury rehabilitation clinic.
Proponents still want a legislative “correction” as the Court of Appeal’s opinion does not apply to injured parties after the new law came into force.
“We have been told that in order for progress to continue, we must allow this law to pass. We don’t know what that progress is because interest rates aren’t going down and in the meantime people are suffering,” Judd said Monday.
“They suffer unnecessarily…we’re talking about a slim solution that pays vendors back to a reasonable level.”
According to The Zebra, a website that analyzes and compares auto insurance rates in the United States, Michigan is now the second most expensive state to buy a policy.
In 2022, Michigan drivers paid an annual average of $2,639.
Louisiana is now the most expensive state, with drivers paying an average of $3,265 per year.
Impact of No-Fault Law Changes
According to CPAN, a group focused on preserving our previous no-fault auto system, at least eight people have died since the changes went into effect because they lost access to medical care.
A report released in early August, conducted by Michigan Public Health and commissioned by the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, found 6,857 accident survivors were fired from local nursing services and 4,082 health care workers lost their jobs.
They noted that 10 care businesses have had to completely close their doors since the changes took effect, while 14 more businesses are expected to close over the next 12 months.
FOX 17 coverage of the No-Fault Auto Reform Care Crisis
May 17, 2021 — New law could have devastating consequences
June 2, 2021 — “We pay the price with our lives”: FOX 17 Extended Coverage
June 9, 2021 — Hundreds of survivors protest at the Capitol
June 10, 2021 — Rep. Berman introduces Bill to prevent cuts
June 23, 2021 — Proponents of a renewed rally in the Capitol
June 26, 2021 — House approves $10 million fund
June 30, 2021 — Proponents say $25 million isn’t enough
July 7, 2021 — Family fears losing caregivers
July 23, 2021 — Vendors are starting to close their doors
August 4, 2021 — Patients continue to lose care
September 24, 2021 — Changes that cause chaos for survivors
September 27, 2021 — ‘We Can’t Wait’ ArtPrize contribution sheds light on the care crisis
Oct 4, 2021 — Protest outside SML Shirkey stores
Oct 14, 2021 — Some insurers do not follow the intent of the law
Oct 27, 2021 — New billing round announced
January 11, 2022 — Report says no bug reform has caused a nursing crisis
July 1, 2022 — 1 year after the new auto no-fault law
August 11, 2022 — 2. No-Fault Impact Report released
August 25, 2022 — 35 counties sign a resolution urging law changes
August 26, 2022 — Court of appeals says law is not retroactive
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