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Study finds skyrocketing number of severely injured car-crash patients have lost care

Catastrophically injured auto accident survivors at the state Capitol, asking legislators to fix no fault law that's depriving them of care
Emma Winowieki
Michigan Radio
Catastrophically injured auto accident survivors at the state capitol, asking legislators to fix no fault law that's depriving them of care

A follow-up study has found that the number of severely injured car crash survivors in Michigan who've lost medical care has skyrocketed, due to changes to the state's 2019 auto no-fault law.

In January, the first phase of a study by the Michigan Public Health Institute found 1,500 severely injured car crash patients had lost medically necessary care since last summer.

Now, the institute said, that number has more than quadrupled to 6,800. The study also found more than 4,000 workers in the care industry lost their jobs.

The study links the losses to the 45% cuts in payments for care that were set under the no-fault law. The payments are now typically below the cost of care for most providers.

Tom Constand is head of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, which commissioned the study.

"The numbers that they found are just shocking. The crisis of care is real," he said.

Supporters of the 2019 law say it's bringing down car insurance costs and point to $400 refund checks sent to drivers earlier this year.

But those checks actually came from the fund set up to care for survivors. The fund's costs have plummeted because so many survivors are being denied care.

Survivors and supporters have been rallying for changes to the law more than a year — at the state Capitol, in Detroit, and most recently, in front of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which supports the law.

In a press release, the chamber highlighted positive effects of the law, including the $400 refund checks.

"At the same time, it’s essential that individuals needing care and coverage get it," the release said. "That’s why the Michigan Chamber strongly supported the creation of a $25 million appropriation for long-term care providers struggling to transition or provide care under the reforms.”

But, eight months after the fund's creation, not a single dollar had been awarded to a financially struggling provider.

Providers recently testified at a hearing before House Insurance Committee Chairwoman Daire Rendon that the fund's extensive paperwork and rules have made it impossible to successfully apply for and receive the grants.

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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