NOVI, Mich. (WXYZ) — On July 1 a new law allowed auto insurance companies to cut attendant care coverage for people with catastrophic injuries by 45% across the board.
The auto insurance industry said it was a way to stop price gouging. Car accident survivors said it would put any company charging reasonable fees out of business and leave them without care.
Now some catastrophic car injury survivors say they are seeing the impacts.
“They have enormously impacted my life,” said Brian Woodward. “I had a job. I owned my own home. I was a working productive citizen, and now I don’t know what I am.”
Right now Brian is in the hospital, being treated for a urinary tract infection. He says he is at the point where he should be going home. He says social workers say he can’t go home because he can’t find attendants to work for the new rate of $12 an hour.
“We told them this was happening and they didn’t believe us. They wanted to wait and see,” said Brian.
State Representative Douglas Wozniak, a Republican from Shelby Township, introduced House Bill 4486 to try to protect accident survivors from this cut. He says he did so thinking of his neighbor’s daughter who suffered a catastrophic accident.
He told 7 Action News in May that he was disappointed fellow legislators wanted to wait and see if what patients warned would happen or what insurance companies predicted, actually happened.
Insurance companies said that price gouging was so prevalent that companies would find a way to provide care.
Brian, who is quadriplegic and needs caregivers around the clock, says hospital social workers are looking for a nursing home for him since home care now seems unobtainable. He has lived in his home since his accident in 1983.
The legislature and the governor set up a fund they said would be a fix, but the Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council says the money may not be available until December. It also will only cover a fraction of patients in need. That doesn’t help patients who need care right now.
Brian wants a real fix.
“I can’t believe they are that cold-hearted,” he said.
“I am scared. I don’t want to live in a facility. I am comfortable living at home,” said Justin Sabbaugh, who is also a catastrophic car accident survivor and Brian’s friend.
Justin is asking for your help. He has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to help Brian. He says the money would be spent helping Brian replace his furnace and water heater, which were damaged in recent floods. It would also be spent on caregivers, so he can return home.
Justin also wants you to make a call.
“I would like people to call their legislators and talk with them and keep talking with them,” said Justin.
“I mean, what is my life worth?” Asked Brian. “The legislators got me stuck in the hospital, not knowing what to do.”
7 Action News Reporter Kim Russell is working on more stories on this topic. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.