Michigan Supreme Court rules that Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association may not be a "public body" subject to FOIA
This month, the Supreme Court responded to an appeal from the Court of Appeals by sending a case back to the lower court for further analysis. The case involved an action by a number of plaintiffs seeking discovery of the finances of the publicly-financed Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA). The MCCA is funded by a mandatory tax on motorists seeking permission to operate a vehicle on Michigan's roads. It is used to fund medical expenses that exceed the threshold paid by the driver-owner's primary auto insurer. It is managed by the insurers, themselves, and although they frequently argue that Michigan's unlimited no fault medical coverage is inadequately funded, the insurers refuse to provide a public accounting of MCCA's assets and liabilities.
The lawsuit no doubt originated in the insurers' attempt two years ago, to grab the MCCA assets without assuming its residual medical obligations. That's right, it is our understanding that they sought legislation that would have resulted in their ability to walk away from the long-term care obligations the money was intended to fund, while keeping the money they had collected through a mandatory insurance fee. That was one step too far even for some Republicans and it didn't go far--but it most likely did prompt the lawsuit to uncloak the financial operations of the mandatory fund.
Several months ago the Court of Appeals held that the plaintiffs seeking an accounting of the MCCA's finances were not entitled to demand that information through the Freedom of Information Act. This month the Supreme Court went one step further and sent the case back to determine whether the MCCA is even a "public body" subject to the FOIA. Don't hold your breath waiting for an accounting of how the insurers are spending your money.