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Whitmer will not support auto insurance law that doesn’t guarantee medical coverage

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Republican leaders in the Legislature have agreed to delay final votes on bills designed to make auto insurance in Michigan more affordable.

The state Legislature’s Republican leaders say they will delay sending bills to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to change Michigan’s auto insurance system.

Republicans were poised to send the bills to Whitmer’s desk despite her vow to veto them, but Republican leaders say they’re still hopeful a deal can be reached that’s acceptable to all sides.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) says he’s willing to hold off on a confrontation with the Democratic governor.

“Fine wine takes time, my friend,” he says. “When we get this done, there is no question in my mind real reform is going to get done, and when we get it done, it will be viewed as a very fine wine.”

Republicans and Democrats disagree on whether auto rates should be reduced by capping insurance protection or eliminating geography as a factor in rate-setting, but there is agreement something needs to be done about the high cost of insurance.

Republicans say consumers should be allowed to choose plans they can afford by picking their level of coverage.

Whitmer says she’s willing to bargain with Republicans on a plan to reduce auto insurance premiums, but she says reducing coverage is not the answer.

“The zero coverage option is where I have to draw the line,” says Whitmer.

State House Democratic Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) says the Republican measures would place people injured in auto accidents at risk of bankruptcy and substandard healthcare, but she says Democrats are willing to look at the Republican plan.

“But it’s not even close to what we need for a real solution that values the pocketbook as well as health,” she says.

The Legislature is adjourned for the week and will return to Lansing on Tuesday.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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