LANSING, Michigan — Michigan has been known for decades for sky-high auto insurance prices — the goal of our no-fault auto reform law signed in 2019 was to reduce what drivers pay for protection, but Advocates say this has had unintended consequences for crash survivors trying to get medical attention.
After nearly a year and a half of bills aimed at addressing their concerns failing to gain traction on Capitol Hill, advocates are now cautiously optimistic that newly elected lawmakers will finally get things moving.
There are approximately 18,000 Michiganders currently receiving medical benefits from their no-fault auto policies.
Under the new law, which went into effect July 2, 2021, any medical service not already covered by our Federal Medicare Act, which includes home caregivers and transportation to medical services, will not be now reimbursed by insurance companies only at 55% of what they were in 2019. The law also limits the number of hours family members can provide care to just 56 hours per week.
Due to these new limitations, several local healthcare providers have been forced to either stop accepting patients with no-fault benefits or close their doors altogether.
A handful of bills have been introduced in Lansing since the law took effect to change the fee schedule and ensure survivors have access to medical care.
All have so far languished in committees without any substantial consideration.
Supporters blamed Republican leaders for refusing to put any of the bills to a vote.
After Tuesday’s election, for the first time in decades, Michigan will soon have a majority Democratic House and Senate.
“We have a governor who has repeatedly said that she will sign a bill that will come to her desk, that she wants a bill to come to her desk that calls for a narrow solution to the care crisis “, said Tom Judd, president of the Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council, said Monday.
“Well, his party is now in the majority…we have no more excuses there. We need to get this bill to the governor.”
The Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion in late August saying that changes to Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law should not apply retroactively to people who purchased policies and were injured before the law was signed in 2019.
The case was brought by crash survivors Ellen Andary of East Lansing, Philip Krueger of Ann Arbor and the Eisenhower Center, a brain injury rehabilitation clinic, against USAA Casualty Insurance.
Proponents still want a legislative “solution” because the Court of Appeal’s opinion will not apply to those injured after the new law takes effect.
“We were told that we had to let this law play for progress to continue. We don’t know what that progress is because rates aren’t coming down and in the meantime people are suffering,” Judd said Monday.
“They are suffering unnecessarily…we are talking about a narrow solution that allows suppliers to be paid at a reasonable level.”
According Zebraa website that analyzes and compares auto insurance rates across the United States, Michigan is now the second most expensive state to purchase a policy.
In 2022, Michigan drivers paid an average of $2,639 per year.
Louisiana is now the most expensive state, with drivers paying an average of $3,265 a year.
Impact of Changes to No-Fault Law
According PRCa group focused on preserving our old no-fault car system, at least eight people have died since the changes took effect, due to loss of access to certain care.
A report released in early August, conducted by Michigan Public Health and commissioned by the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, found that 6,857 crash survivors were discharged from local healthcare providers and 4,082 healthcare workers lost their use.
They found that 10 care businesses have had to shut down completely since the changes took effect, while another 14 businesses plan to close in the next 12 months.
FOX 17 coverage of the no-fault car reform care crisis
May 17, 2021 — New law could have devastating consequences
June 2, 2021 — ‘We are paying 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 — Lawyers gather again at the Capitol
June 26, 2021 — House approves $10 million fund
June 30, 2021 — Supporters say $25 million isn’t enough
July 7, 2021 — The family is afraid of losing their caregivers
July 23, 2021 — Suppliers begin to close
August 4, 2021 — Patients continue to lose care
September 24, 2021 — Changes Causing Chaos For Survivors
September 27, 2021 — ‘We Can’t Wait ‘ArtPrize Entry Highlights Care Crisis
October 4, 2021 — Demonstration outside SML Shirkey company
October 14, 2021 — Some insurers do not follow the intent of the law
October 27, 2021 — Announcing a new set of bills
January 11, 2022 — Report says no-fault reform has created a care crisis
July 1, 2022 — 1 year under the new no-fault automobile law
August 11, 2022 — Publication of the 2nd report on the impact of the absence of fault
August 25, 2022 — 35 counties sign resolution calling for legislative changes
August 26, 2022 — Court of Appeal says law not retroactive