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Hospital admits auto accident survivor with no other place to go after his caregivers leave

a hospital hallway with people at the end of it
Robin Erb

Michigan's new auto insurance law is overturning the lives of many auto accident survivors and their families, week by week, as long-term care providers that used to support them close.

Take the case of one of Christine Call's clients. She's a case manager for auto accident survivors. One of her clients is a quadriplegic with a traumatic brain injury.He is unable to transfer himself in and out of bed or in and out of his wheelchair. He can't get a drink of water for himself. He can't get himself anything to eat. And he has no family, so he is completely dependent on his caregivers - paid for by his auto insurance company - to survive.

But recent changes to the law allow auto insurance companies to cut payments to caregivers by 45%, which forced the company that provided full-time care for the man out of business.

Call was unable to find any other caregiving company that still accepts auto insurance payments. So she had no choice but to drive him to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo and leave him there.  

Now, he is lying in a hospital bed, while she frantically tries to find a company that can provide adequate care so he can go home.

This man may not be the first auto accident survivor to seek care at a hospital to save his life, and he certainly won't be the last. Call says she has other clients who have lost care and are in desperate situations. Other case managers say the same.

When Call reaches out to insurance companies - Nationwide, Progressive, AAA Michigan - she gets no help. Adjusters tell her, "Hire an attorney to help you understand the new law." "It's not our job to help you help our customers replace their caregivers."

The new law also cuts Call's income by 45%. But she says she's not quitting her job when when it means abandoning helpless and vulnerable people.

Insurance companies, if they respond at all, direct inquiries about what's happening to their customers to the Insurance Alliance of Michigan, a trade group that represents Michigan insurance companies.

The Insurance Alliance of Michigan claims the companies going out of business were greedy and overcharging.

But long-term care providers say there is virtually no truth to that claim. They say the new law is intended to increase profits for the already profitable insurance industry.

So, like dominos, long-term care companies are going out of business. Auto accident survivors are being forced out of residential rehab programs, or losing their home caregivers. If there's greed involved, the long-term care companies say it's in the boardrooms of auto insurance companies in Michigan.

Survivors and their families are pleading for help. They say insurance companies, and Republican leaders in the state Legislature, and Anita Fox, Director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer  could stop this, if they wanted.

But the pleas appear to be falling on deaf ears.  The caregivers are closing up shop. The survivors are being  abandoned.

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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