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Bipartian group pushes a fix for no fault auto insurance laws before July 1 deadline

Charlottesville car crash suspect ID'd as 20-year-old Ohio man
Posted at 2:52 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 14:52:11-04

LANSING, Mich. — A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers signed a legal memo saying they did not intend for two key elements of the 2019 no-fault auto insurance law to be applied retroactively.

The memo is the latest in a long fight against a new fee schedule that would take away funding from specialized rehabilitation services.

The new fee schedule would only cover rehab services that have been assigned codes by the U.S Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In hospitals, those fees are generally covered by Medicare which means the biggest impact is on specialized rehabilitation programs, which often do not take place in hospitals.

Now advocates have less than a month before the new fee schedule is implemented.

A large group of advocates, car accident survivors and politicians gathered at the state capitol on Wednesday to urge fixing the no-fault auto insurance law.

“Thousands of people like me depend on the ongoing care covered by Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law,” Lane Bargeron said.

Bargeron relies on no-fault care after a collision with a semi in 2012, "not to get rich, not to cheat the system, not as an excuse to be lazy and collect checks—but simply to live.”

During the demonstration, a memo written by a group of 73 current and former lawmakers was signed and included in an amicus brief by state Reps. Julie Brixie, D-Meridian Township, and Andrea Schroeder, R-Independence Township.

In the memo, lawmakers point out that it was never their intention to apply the new fee schedule to people who already rely on the benefits of the no-fault insurance system. Many rely on treatment, therapies and other support that would be impossible to afford if the new fee schedule takes effect.

Lawmakers also highlighted in the memo that, as written, the law does not contain language that expresses intent to apply the new fee schedule retroactively.

“Michiganders paid into our no-fault system for years, and even decades, with the understanding that their insurance policy guaranteed their coverage,” said Brixie. “Based on the intent of the 2019 reforms and our state Constitution, survivors who were injured prior to the effective date should be entitled to the full benefits specified in their insurance policy at the time of their accident.”

Brixie also argued that the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association has the money to provide care to those currently benefiting.

“The MCCA has a $20 billion balance to provide for their care. To deny coverage for survivors now is unconscionable,” she said.

Lawmakers argue that applying the new fee schedule retroactively would be in violation of the contracts clause of the Michigan Constitution.

“People bought their policies years and even decades ago with contractual assurances,” said George Sinas, who serves as the general counsel for families in a lawsuit against the changes. “Now that care could be ripped away from them. Government can’t infringe on the vested contractual rights of its citizens—that’s something that all legislators, Republicans and Democrats, should be able to agree on.”

Michigan’s car insurance rates are some of the highest in the country. Proponents of the new fee schedule argue that the cost to regular drivers is just too high.

“Reforms to Michigan’s auto no-fault system are working and we need to let them keep working,” Erin McDonough, executive director of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan, said in a previous statement to Fox 47 News. “They are saving drivers hundreds and thousands of dollars each year. They are cracking down on rampant fraud and giving drivers a choice.”

McDonough and other proponents of the new fee schedule argue that making the change will open up greater competition among auto insurers and drive down the price of insurance in Michigan.

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Elle Meyers

Elle Meyers

6:12 PM, Apr 12, 2021

State Capitol

Neighborhood Reporter

Elle Meyers

FOX 47 News Neighborhood Newsletter