The usual suspects are lining up to take shots at the new Gang of Justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. Don’t buy the hype. The latest "outrage" seems to be the prospect that Michigan insurance premiums might go up by $20 per year and the blame is wrongfully being directed at Gang of Justice, consisting of Justices Weaver, Kelly, Cavanagh, and Hathaway.
This all stems from the Supreme Court decision in United States Fidelity Guarantee & Insurance Co v Michigan Catastrophic Claims Ass’n, where the Supreme Court ordered the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to fully reimburse insurance companies for all medical payments above $460,000. Under Michigan law, your insurance carrier is required to pay a lifetime benefit of all medical services that are reasonable and necessary for your recovery, care, or rehabilitation – but ask that to the thousands of people who often find their no-fault benefits terminated after a five minute "appointment" with a doctor who will gladly write a report to your insurer that you’re good-to-go. If, however, you are one of the few people who suffer a truly catastrophic injury such that your medical bills go beyond $460,000, insurance companies in Michigan get reimbursed by the MCCA.
Many of these catastrophic claims usually involve settlements on services like attendant care, where a family member or other person actually takes on the "job" of caring for someone who is now paralyzed, severely injured, or otherwise incapable of doing the basics of life. These attendant care services are part of the "medical services" that a no-fault insurer must pay so long as they are related to the accident and necessary for your care. Because of that, up to the first $460,000 or benefits paid, they are without a doubt put in a position to negotiate a fair and reasonable wage (because until they cross that $460,000 threshold they are solely responsible). The MCCA wanted to be able to reduce the amount they paid back to insurance companies by saying that the insurance companies didn’t try hard enough to keep costs low. The MCCA gets its money by charging all of the insurance companies operating in Michigan a fee – so in essence, the insurance companies themselves all share in paying the catastrophic claims of injured Michigan motorists and passengers. Naturally, insurance companies pass down that bill to us, their policyholders. Shockingly, this increase was decided on even before the decision was released by the Michigan Supreme Court! Makes you wonder just how hard the MCCA is working with no-fault insurers to negotiate reasonable benefits.
The next time you pick up your local paper and read the propoganda, think it through. Just what would have led to higher insurance rates? Imagine a scenario where insurance companies didn’t get fully reimbursed by the MCCA, so that the MCCA didn’t pass down a $20 yearly increase per policy? Then we’d have the insurance companies themselves saying "we’re out of millions! Time to raise rates because we’re not getting fairly reimbursed?" The truth is that conservatives need to find fault with any and all decisions made by the Gang of Justice, because legal change is coming that will undo the disasterous legacy of Gov. Engler’s Gang of Four.
So while folks like Collen Pero will want to make this about Justice Hathaway and her supporters (nevermind the fact that he was a campaign manager for ex-Justice Cliff Taylor who gladly accepted contributions totalling nearly $100,000 from DaimlerChrysler from 1998 to 2000 before overturning a major jury verdict against DaimlerChrysler of $21 Million in 2002), have a conversation with your fellow Michigan residents, talk with them about their fears, and help them realize that what the Supreme Court is finally doing is putting their interests ahead of corporate greed. When Diane Hathaway beat Cliff Taylor despite Taylor’s supporters giving him a bank account of $1.4 Million in campaign contributions, Michigan residents said loud and clear that they were fed up with the Supreme Court’s staunch support of corporate interests over the public good. That’s what this noise is all about – hot air from corporate goons staring at the prospect of knowing what life is like for real Americans.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.