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More than 1,500 crash survivors have lost care so far due to no-fault auto insurance law, study finds

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

A study conducted by the health research firm Michigan Public Health Institute has found far-reaching impacts from the state's new no-fault auto insurance law — just months after steep cuts in payments to caregivers went into effect.

More than 1,500 Michiganders with catastrophic injuries lost some or all of their care due to the changes in the law, the study found, and more than 3,000 people lost jobs.

On July 1, the state's new auto no-fault law imposed dramatic cuts in payments to companies and families providing care for catastrophically injured auto accident survivors.

The payments were slashed nearly in half, and in many cases, providers are now being reimbursed for services at well below the actual cost of providing the care.

Other findings from the study include:

  • 263 (96%) organizations reported that their services were impacted by the payment cuts.
  • 140 (51%) Had to significantly reduce services/products
  • 96 (35%) Cannot accept new patients with auto insurance funding
  • 30 (11%) Had to discharge patients
  • 21 (8%) Had to close operations completely

Most ominously for the future, of the 89 companies that said they were not affected by the law yet, more than half reported they will not be able to serve patients with auto insurance funding within 12 months.
That's because most caregiver companies have been depleting their rainy day funds at an alarming pace, said Tom Constand, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan.

He said the law broke a contractual promise of quality lifetime care under the survivors' insurance policies. In many cases, they'd been receiving that care for decades.

"To suddenly have that care taken away retroactively is beyond unfair," said Constand. "It's inhumane."

Numerous bills, sponsored by Republicans and Democrats, have been introduced in the House and Senate to fix the law. So far, Republican leaders have resisted pressure from advocates, caregivers, and survivors to give 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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