LANSING, Mich. — A little more than two months after Michigan's auto no fault reform bill took effect, patients and some of the rehabilitation facilities that treat them are already feeling the consequences.
Now advocates say it's just a matter of time before those facilities have to close their doors.
The no fault reforms that took effect in July changed the way rehab facilities can charge. Now, any medical service not covered by Medicare, services like in-home caregivers and transportation services, are only reimbursed at 55 percent of what they were in previous years.
“Folks I have talked to across the state are all saying the same thing-- that we're not going to be able to stay in business. We had to put notices out that we would not be able to serve after Oct. 22," said Kris Curtis, the director and owner of CBI Rehabilitation Services in East Lansing.
"We haven't been paid since July," he said.
Curtis said many of the programs his clients rely on will have to be stripped away, including a farm he runs in Lansing that provides an outlet for people with traumatic brain injuries and behavioral issues.
Dr. Owen Perlman who specializes in brain injury rehabilitation and spinal cord rehabilitation said he's having increasing trouble finding transportation for his patients.
“I'm finding that I can't get transportation for my patients to go to therapies because many of the transportation companies have closed down because the insurance companies are not paying them or they're not paying them sufficiently to stay in business. At least 21 transportation companies have closed," he said.
Steve Siporin who specializes in the legal side of care management and guardianship tells a similar story.
“The first thing that we’re finding is that resources are drying up. People are just not taking on new cases, and the key is that no one is being paid," he said. "“Basically you’re seeing an industry in a nosedive, and unfortunately there seems to be no reaction from Lansing.”
Anita Fox, the director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, said that the main purpose of the reforms was to bring down auto default rates.
They "were the highest in the country," she said. "We have great coverage but only if you can afford it, and so many drivers were driving uninsured and that puts their families at risk and it puts all of us at risk."
Fox said that the no fault reforms have been a success for the average consumer.
“Overall, a big success in bringing down rates and adding some consumer protections, and we’ve just got to make sure that victims get the care that they’re entitled to under the law," she said.
Fox said that the department is working to resolve issues quickly.
"We’ve gotten over 400 inquiries, about 75 of those have asked for our help and we’re working out way through those," she said. "More than 50 have already been resolved and by resolved I mean there’s an adequate care plan in place that meets what the providers say the patient needs.”
But Curtis said despite working with DIFS, so far, there's no solution for him.
"We churned out yesterday 26 complaints to DIFS..." he said, "I can’t get a return call.”
Of his 28 no fault patients a total of 22 will have to look for other care options if he has to close CBI's doors.
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