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Accident survivors rally near Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association headquarters over new auto no-fault law

Justin Sabbaugh and his dog Bella at rally for changes to Michigan's new auto no fault law
Tracy Samilton
Justin Sabbaugh and his dog Bella at the rally for changes to Michigan's new auto no-fault law.

A group of auto accident survivors and their family members and caregivers rallied outside the headquarters of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association on Wednesday.

Many say the new auto no-fault law places them in harm's way — and could even kill them.

The law cuts pay for caregivers for accident survivors by nearly half. Many home care agencies have closed as a result.

Ron Ryan is a paraplegic from his 1993 accident. He and his wife Carrie Ryan are worried his agency will close next. Ryan recently suffered strokes, which his medical care providers said were related to his accident.

"My health complications have grown," said Ryan. "I'm also having pressure sores from sitting and lying in bed. Without continuing care..."

"He would be dead if he wasn't at home being cared for. He wouldn't have survived," said Carrie Ryan.

Debbie Marra came to the rally with her nephew, Kenny Gazarek, who can't speak and needs around the clock care after his accident.

Marra says his insurance company recently cut his home care workers' wages by 20%.

"So thank God they're willing to stay on, hoping that this gets some kind of fix, because if they didn't, I don't know what I would do," she said.

The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association is responsible for payments to caregivers for survivors with catastrophic injuries. The Association recently said it would send insured drivers a check from some of its surplus, at the request of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Several accident survivors said that fund exists to pay for their care, not to give voters a check during an election year.

The Association did not respond to our request for comment.

Bills have been introduced in the state House and state Senate to restore care for patients with catastrophic injuries, but Republican leaders in both chambers have refused to allow the bills a hearing.

The MCCA fund pays for care for more than 18,000 car accident survivors with catastrophic injuries. The fund is now cutting payments for care nearly in half, driving the long-term care provider industry into a swift collapse.

No state agency is tracking what happens to survivors after they lose care.

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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