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House Democrat says bill to fix worst aspect of new auto insurance law would pass if brought to floor for vote by Republicans

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Democratic State Representative Julie Brixie says there are enough votes in the state House to fix the worst aspect of Michigan's new auto insurance law - which applies it retroactively to people who suffered catastrophic injuries prior to 2019.

The law allows insurance companies to cut the fees they pay long term care providers for auto accident patients by nearly half. Many of the providers are going out of business, or discharging their auto accident patients because they can't afford to care for them anymore.

Brixie said House members were falsely assured by Republican bill sponsors that the law would not be applied retroactively to take care away from people who were already receiving care for their injuries.

She said members weren't given enough time to read the bill before the vote to discover that was false. Now, many auto accident survivors are getting less care, going without care altogether or landing in hospitals after losing their care.

She said Republican leaders need to allow a vote on bill that would remove the retroactive clause in the law before more people are hurt.

"You have enough votes to pass it," said Brixie. "That is a huge indicators of the buyers remorse that is going on."

There are other bills being held up in committees that would address the 45% cut in fees to long-term care providers for future auto accident survivors as well. Without that fix, motorists who pay for lifetime medical on the PIP portion of their insurance premiums will likely find it no longer includes home care, because the agencies will have all closed or stopped accepting auto accident patients.

The law also slashes the hours to 56, total, that family members can be paid for caring for catastrophically injured loved ones. The law allows insurance companies to require the families to find professional home care agencies to take over the remainder of the hours. It's a catch-22, because many families discover that all the home care agencies in their region have closed or stopped accepting auto accident survivors as patients.

Brixie said what's happening to survivors and their families is unconscionable.

"To turn our backs on the people who paid their insurance for decades and taking that away from them, and the suffering this imposes on families, is absolutely heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking. Patients are being taken to the hospital and dropped off because they can't be cared for," she said.

Brixie said more than one promise is being broken. The state has dropped to either second or third most expensive, a far cry, she said, from the "affordable" rates that were advertised by lawmakers and the insurance industry.

Republican leaders won't give a hearing to any of the bills to fix the law's flaws and they won't respond to interview requests.

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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