Over the past six weeks, I have blogged about some proposed changes to Michigan’s No-Fault insurance laws. The current version of the bill, HB 4936, has two major anti-consumer components. First, the new law would end the greatest feature of Michigan’s model No-Fault law: unlimited lifetime medical benefits for the care, recovery, and rehabilitation of injuries caused in an auto accident. Second, medical providers would be compensated using a fee schedule similar to that used in workers’ compensation cases, rather than a reasonable and customary amount. Needless to say, the extremely powerful auto accident insurance industry is lobbying heavily for the changes in order to increase their profits.
In place of the current system, the new personal injury protection scheme would impose caps on medical benefits. This is cause for concern because many motorists are likely to choose the lowest level of coverage possible. When that coverage is exhausted, taxpayer-funded alternatives such as Medicaid and Medicare are likely to pick up the bulk of the burden. According to one estimate, Michigan’s Medicaid health plans will face an additional $30 million expenses in the first year of the proposed new system.
For a lot of residents, this debate seems pretty abstract – something they don’t think they have to worry about. Of course, no one expects to be involved in a catastrophic auto accident. When this kind of tragedy does happen, however, medical expenses can destroy lives and families. Under Michigan’s current No-Fault system, the highest-priority insurance company is usually very easy to identify, and it is required to begin paying for medical care immediately without the need for or delay of litigation to determine fault. As a result, severely injured accident victims can receive the medical care they need.
As if HB 4936 wasn’t bad enough already, it also contains a miniscule appropriations provision. The sole purpose of the $50,000 appropriation is to make the law “referendum-proof” – voters would not be able to overturn the law without introducing a ballot initiative. Ballot initiatives require significantly more signatures than referenda.
It’s time for our legislators to put people ahead of corporations. Call your state representative and state senator TODAY and tell them to vote NO on No-Fault reform. You can’t afford to wait until tomorrow – it may be too late.
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.