LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Bipartisan legislation was sent to the Michigan Senate on September 26th that would increase reimbursement rates for medical providers and caregivers who are treating auto accident patients who have acute injuries and those who also need long-term catastrophic care.

This new senate legislation, Senate Bills 530 and 531, follows the recent Michigan Supreme Court decision in what is referred to as the “Andary case” which ruled that the cost controls in the 2019 legislation (PA 21-22) that amended the no-fault act didn’t apply retroactively to patients who were in accidents prior to the legislation overhaul.

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However, even after the victory for the approximately 17,000 auto crash survivors, advocates for the catastrophically injured – and future accident victims – called for the 2019 legislation to be fixed, legislation that limits the billable hours for at-home care and also cap medical care provider rates to 55% of previous rates. Opponents of the 2019 legislation argue that the bipartisan pro-insurance legislation was responsible for care providers going out of business in addition to many survivors losing care and some ultimately dying.

Under the new legislation, medical care providers and caregivers would get a pay raise for taking care of car accident victims. One of the most significant parts of the new legislation is the impact it will have on caregivers who are taking care of their injured family members. According to the Detroit Free Press, relatives providing care to a catastrophically injured person would get increased rates but even more importantly, the legislation would eliminate the 56-hour limit on reimbursement for care provided by a family member. This is care that is essentially provided 24/7, around-the-clock.

Michigan State Senator John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs), a co-sponsor of the legislation told Michigan News Source,“Since the no-fault reforms were passed years ago, we have seen the suffering by catastrophically injured people whose health care coverage was slashed. Until the recent Supreme Court ruling, the cuts were inappropriately applied retroactively, making matters worse. And while treatments and coverage has been decimated, I still have yet to see people who believe they are saving much money on auto insurance. It’s clear we need to fix the so-called reforms to protect those families who have suffered so much and to ensure Michigan drivers have a real choice in
selecting insurance plans.”

We Can’t Wait, a grassroots organization created for catastrophically injured auto crash survivors, families, providers and friends, released a statement in regard to SB 530 and 531. Founder Peggy Campbell said, “By now, it should be clear to everyone that auto insurance reform has failed. Benefits that were promised and paid for have been stolen. Contracts were broken and care was ripped away.

Family members have quit their jobs so they can provide 24/7 care for their loved ones, often having no choice but to declare bankruptcy. Attendant care agencies, which are so important to survivors of serious crashes, have been forced to close their doors or are no longer accepting patients.”

Campbell continued, “For more than two years, we have begged and pleaded with legislators to introduce bills that would fix these problems. We are happy to see that lawmakers are finally taking action. It’s also important to note that while this summer’s Supreme Court decision in the Andary v. Casualty Insurance Co. et al – which determined that the new law could not be applied retroactively – was a significant victory for survivors with spinal cord and brain injuries, it still leaves anyone injured after 2019 with limited access to needed and medically prescribed care.”

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Campbell ended her statement by saying, “Michigan drivers who chose a policy with lifetime benefits deserve access to care, regardless of when they were injured. Without a legislative solution, more businesses will close, more essential health care workers will be laid off, and more crash survivors will go without the care they need. This Legislature’s work is not done. We need action, and vulnerable survivors can’t wait any longer. We urge our legislators to act without haste and pass these bills to end the suffering of all current crash survivors and protect the rights of future crash survivors.”

Barry Cargill, President & CEO, Michigan HomeCare & Hospice Association, said in a statement about the new legislation, “The Michigan Homecare and Hospice Association thanks Sen. Mary Cavanagh, Sen. Sarah Anthony and the bipartisan support of senators who have sponsored legislation to fix auto no fault to provide medically necessary care for all crash survivors, no matter when they are injured. The introduction of this legislation is an important step forward in the effort to lessen the burden on the state’s most vulnerable. We urge the legislature to act quickly to fix the mistake made by the previous legislature by restoring reasonable reimbursement for medically
necessary care for our most vulnerable citizens to stop the growing care crisis.”

Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, also released a statement and said, “The auto no-fault insurance bills introduced today will improve access to care for auto accident survivors and patients. The reforms implemented several years ago created an environment of extreme uncertainty. This bill package is an important step towards providing better access to services and reimbursement clarity, bringing Michigan healthcare provider reimbursement in line with national averages and ensuring they all have the resources needed to care for auto accident survivors throughout their recovery. The Michigan Health & Hospital Association is proud to join the
many stakeholders supporting Senate Bills 530 and 531.”

On the other side of the issue, Insurance Alliance of Michigan Executive Director Erin McDonough, says, “Auto no-fault reforms have saved Michigan consumers more than $5 billion by cracking down on fraud, reining in rampant overcharging by medical providers and providing consumers more choices. We urge policymakers to carefully review policy proposals with an eye toward how it impacts auto insurance costs and how it impacts Michigan families.”

The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Finance, Insurance and Consumer Protection.