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"We're running out of time" — Advocates rally against medical fee cuts coming with no-fault auto reform

The new medical fees will take effect after July 1
nfa changes lansing
Posted at 9:59 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 21:59:14-04

LANSING, Mich. — On Wednesday advocates for survivors of catastrophic auto crashes were once again inside the state capitol asking lawmakers to take action on several bills that would address changes set to take effect after July 1 as part of Michigan's no-fault auto reform.

As part of our state's new auto insurance law signed in 2019, a new set of medical fee schedules will take effect on July 2.

These fee schedules say that insurance companies will no only have to reimburse local care providers at 55% of what they were reimbursing them in 2019, for any service not covered under our federal medicare act.

The changes will also set a cap of 56 hours a week on in-home medical care provided by a crash survivor's family members.

Advocates say the changes will force these Michigan-based care providers out of business, as they won't be able to sustain the massive cuts in reimbursements. For those survivors who rely on benefits through their no-fault auto insurance policies, they worry they soon won't be able to find care.

“We're down to the wire... we're running out of time,” said Nick Long, owner of NeuroCare Home Health LLC.

Long says he will continue to provide care to his clients who need it to survive out of his own pocket but doesn't know how long he will be able to sustain it.

“We're going to do as much as we can financially. We are going to lose thousands of dollars to make payroll every week. Eventually, that will run out, and we'll go out of business.”

Tom Judd, president of the Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council, says he already has a list of 15- 20 providers that have sent their clients notices that they will either be closing their doors, or unable to accept auto crash patients after July 1.

“That's people right now forecasting and getting out before July 1," Judd told FOX 17.

"There's a lot of companies that are going to try and hold on, hope for a miracle, serve as best they can, cut their resources, and try and make it work.”

Judd says there has been a narrative pushed by some state lawmakers that providers should work on negotiating individual contracts with insurance companies that just isn't reasonable.

“We dropped off a memo [with lawmakers] with hard evidence from seven different companies who have made declaratory statements, they are not negotiating with medical providers, that they will not negotiate with medical providers before July 1," Judd said.

In the memo that the MBIPC sent to several state lawmakers, they list 7 major insurance providers that they say have refused to negotiate with care providers until after the fee schedule changes take effect.

FOX 17 reached out to the Insurance Alliance of Michigan for a comment on this. Executive director Erin McDonough said in a statement, "The Insurance Alliance of Michigan is unable to comment on private discussions or conversations between member companies and medical providers.”

There have so far been 3 separate bills introduced that would apply a narrow fix to these changes— SB 314, HB 4486, HB 4992. All of the bills have so far languished in committees.

Advocates now worry that the legislature will fail to act on any of them before their summer recess.

We asked Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday if she had heard of any new progress with a legislative fix.

She said in part, “I’ve been open to a narrow way to address the rate structure. I think that makes sense, but ultimately we’ve got to negotiate with the legislature, and at this point I think they are still negotiating between themselves to see if they are going to give us a solution to the problem.”