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Spectrum Health Neuro Rehab closes due to new no fault law cuts

Car accident
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Hundreds of Michiganders with catastrophic injuries from auto accidents are losing their health care due to cuts in the state's new no fault law

Spectrum Health is closing its group homes for auto accident survivors due to payment cuts imposed by Michigan's new no fault law. The fee cuts, which kicked in on July 1 of this year, allowed insurance companies to slash payments to long term health care providers by more than the cost of providing care.

Over the next few weeks, the group homes' 30 residents with traumatic brain injuries are being moved to a nursing home that Spectrum runs.

Spectrum Health Neuro Rehab offered auto accident survivors with brain injuries a home-like place to live, with their own rooms and showers, high staffing levels, ongoing rehab, and the ability to pursue personal interests, including outings to baseball games and movies. 

Therapy assistant Jean Kaminski says it's sad. They won't get that quality of life at the nursing home, but at least they have a place to go. Other group home residents across the state won't, because unlike Spectrum Health, their providers do not have access to nursing homes, and because most nursing homes are not capable of safely caring for catastrophically injured people.

"Lots of these people will not survive a year with these types of things happening to them," says Kaminski.

Kaminski says Spectrum Health offered her the opportunity to get a Certified Nurse Assistant license so she could get a job at the nursing home, but she doesn't have the heart to watch her former patients lose so much, and have to live in an institution. She plans to find a job elsewhere, perhaps not in the medical field at all.

Meanwhile, the law is forcing the collapse of the entire long term care industry. At least 46 providers have already gone out of business or discharged their auto accident patients due to the cuts in the new law, and it's expected that most other group homes, residential rehab centers, and home care agencies will also be forced to close.

Experts agree with Kaminski that some survivors will die as a result of the withdrawal of care.

They also agree that the no fault law boosts insurance company profits at the expense of patient care.

Kaminski says high quality care for auto accident patients with severe injuries is expensive, "and what better way to eliminate that than just to not offer care anymore."

Numerous bills have been introduced in the state House and state Senate to fix what many legislators say were unintended consequences of the new law. But the Republican chairs of the insurance committees in both the House and Senate have not given any of the bills a hearing.

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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