No-fault reform could ruin lives of those who need it most – GUEST OPINION
The Oakland Press ran an important editorial on the Michigan legislature’s efforts to “reform” Michigan’s No Fault Act.
We thought this piece, written by Rudy Hobbs, D-Southfield, state House Democratic Floor Leader was worth sharing.
From the Oakland Press, Saturday May 4,2013, click on the link below to read the full article there.
No one knows this better than a person who has survived a catastrophic car accident. One moment, a motorist is driving responsibly down a road, trying to get to work or pick up their kids from school.
The next instant, a drunk driver or patch of ice changes everything. People who have been in catastrophic car accidents have lost limbs, suffered paralysis or had traumatic brain injuries that leave them unable to talk or care for themselves for the rest of their life.
Today, Michigan residents and their families have peace of mind knowing that if they are in a catastrophic accident, all of their medical costs will be covered. That’s because Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law protects people by providing them unlimited life-long care if they need it.
Soon, however, that may not be the case.
Republicans in the Michigan Legislature have made it a priority to “reform” our no-fault auto insurance law. According to them, the changes will mean lower insurance premiums for everyone.
In reality, however, there is no guarantee that gutting no-fault will lead to lasting insurance savings. Worse, the changes call for limiting in-home care to 56 hours per week, rehabilitative services to 52 weeks of treatment, and capping medical benefits at $1 million — an amount that could leave people who have survived serious accidents going bankrupt to continue their medical care.
Built into the Republican’s no-fault restructuring plan is a one-year promise that auto insurance premiums would decrease by about $10 a month in 2014.
However, there is nothing that would prevent insurance companies from increasing premiums after that, and the cost of insurance would likely rise again. On top of that, the proposed law also imposes a $25 annual fee that would go toward paying the Medicaid costs for people involved in catastrophic accidents who have reached their new cap.
In fact, the Republican plan would push people who have been in serious accidents and have no other source of health insurance into the Medicaid system, but only if they’re eligible. Medicaid is a great safety net, but funding for the program is limited — especially since Michigan Republicans are poised to turn down hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to expand the program here in Michigan.
There’s no guarantee that everyone in an accident would qualify for Medicaid, and many would have to spend down all their resources just to get into the program. People may have to go bankrupt just to get health care.
The Republican plan promises to lower expenses to big insurance companies while leaving drivers like you and me with nothing more than greater uncertainties. They are only offering inadequate, short-term solutions in exchange for a lifetime of protection. I don’t want that for our families.
Michigan’s current no-fault system and the coverage we provide to our most vulnerable victims of catastrophic accidents is one of the best in the country.
Michigan should not be concerning itself with lowering this gold standard for $10 a month. I can’t support this so-called reform which fails to permanently lower costs for individual plans and guarantees people with catastrophic injuries will not receive the proper care and protections they deserve.
Rudy Hobbs, D-Southfield, is the state House Democratic Floor Leader.
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