Republicans look to strip Michigan no fault insurance for the benefit of insurance companies
Today, the Michigan Republicans who control the Legislature revealed their plan to wipe out substantial medical coverage currently owed to no fault car accident victims. The plan they revealed bears substantial similarity to a plan decisively rejected by Michigan voters in 1994. According to a summary of the bill, among other changes, the plan would:
1. Eliminate any health care obligation after 52 weeks if the care was required purely for maintenance and with no guarantee of "significant rehabilitation" and "measurable improvement."
2. Control a family's decision with regard to where care should be provided.
3. Require that a third-party provide 16 hours of care to any patient needing 24-hour care and limit family-provided care to 8 hours per day and $15.00 per hour, regardless of the level of care the patient requires. It would require the patient's family to pay the first $200.00 per month of any long-term attendant care.
4. It would cap medical at one million dollars for most insureds, and cap all PIP benefits (medical, and three years of wage loss or household services) for motorcyclists or Assigned Care Plan-eligible persons (people who live in a house without a vehicle) at $250,000.00 and for out-of-state residents at $50,000.00. These caps would apply to these expenses, even thought the at-fault driver and his insurer are relieved from responsibility for these expenses.
5. It includes new limits on medical transportation costs and a medical fee schedule that probably allows insurers to pay workers compensation or Medicare/Medicaid rates for most care. [Because of the lobbying strength of health care providers, this is probably the one aspect of the bill that will not survive the legislative process.]
6. It eliminates attorney fees for litigating attendant care disputes where the insurer is ultimately found to have "unreasonably denied" benefits, and it also excludes from the trial any evidence about how the insurer processed the claim.
In return for these significant restrictions--which will apply to all existing victims and their families and will substantially reduce care for catastrophically injured people in particular--the law requires only that no fault rates for 2014 be reduced by $150.00. Rates may be adjusted upward immediately the following year and the insurers are specifically allowed to continue issuing premium assessments for the catastrophic claim fund.