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Protesters gather outside Shirkey-owned business to push for changes to new insurance law

A rear-ended car with damage.
A rear-ended car with damage.

Protesters gathered Monday outside Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s business in Jackson.

They were there to push Republican leadership to support changes to the state’s auto insurance law. Supporters say those changes would save the lives of people catastrophically injured in car crashes.

Organizer Peggy Campbell said Michigan’s entire home health care system is at risk of collapse. That’s because the law cuts home care agency fees by about half.

“We’ve been trying to get to Senator Shirkey to explain to him how devastating this has been. He says he wants to wait and see. Well, two people have died,” Campbell said. She referred to the deaths of an individual who died in a nursing home after losing her home care workers and another person who died when no one was home to make sure their CPAP machine was turned on.

Campbell founded a Facebook page to help connect with other people who were worried about the impact of the new insurance law taking effect.

Keith Mixer, who was in a car crash 30 years ago and now receives home care, is among them.

He voiced concerns that, under the new law, insurance companies rather than accident survivors would most benefit from a catastrophic claims fund.

“What they’re doing is they’re privatizing the profits and socializing the losses. And all the taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay to support me when I bought an insurance policy,” Mixer said.

Mixer said he would prefer to see a full repeal of the 2019 auto insurance law.

Maureen Howell cared for her son following a car crash that left him temporarily in a coma. She said, aside from a repeal, she’d like to see lawmakers vote on bills that would restore the number of treatment hours insurance companies cover—among other fixes.

"They need to change the fee schedule, they need to change the hour limit, and they need to grandfather in everyone that was injured before 2019,” Howell said.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has called on the Legislature to come up with fixes to the new insurance law.

Shirkey last week said he’s still collecting data before deciding on any potential changes.

Critics of the new law say there aren’t viable alternatives in Michigan to home care for the severely injured should that industry go down, as it's expected to soon, without changes to the insurance law.