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Quiet tragedies mount as legislators decline to review new auto no-fault law

Catastrophically injured car accident survivors gather at the State Capitol on January 13, 2022
Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
Catastrophically injured car accident survivors gather at the State Capitol on January 13, 2022

Survivors of catastrophic car accidents, their loved ones, and other advocates crowded the halls of the state Capitol building yesterday.

The state's new auto no-fault law has cut payments to their care providers by nearly half, and thousands of the survivors are losing necessary medical care as a result.

Care managers say some survivors have died after being moved from their homes to hospitals and nursing homes.

Care managers for car crash survivors estimate at least ten have died and they attribute it to to changes imposed by the new no fault law, which cut pay to care providers by nearly half. Cat Dennis is a nurse whose agency closed due to the cuts. She says the law is forcing people from their homes, with one-on-one care, to poorly staffed nursing homes with high rates of infections.

"It feels like they're waiting for people to die in order to save money," Dennis said.

Twenty-two-year-old Braxton Wood says he has a spinal cord injury from an accident and needs 24/7 care.

But he says his home care agency had to stop his care last summer. That's because the new law cuts payments to health care providers for survivors by nearly half.

His family is now solely responsible for his care, and he says they haven't received a payment for seven months.

"And it's absolutely criminal," Wood says, "I have emptied my savings in order to just to have gas money to go places, trying to survive and trying to make it to my appointments."

Republican State Representative Phil Green says the law needs to be fixed.

He plans to introduce a bill next week that would restore what he calls reasonable payments for care providers.

He's trying to get as many co-sponsors on the bill as he can, hoping to convince his party leaders to allow a hearing.

UPDATE: The word "fix" was changed to "review" in the headline of this post.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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