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A year later, $25 million fund has awarded $0 to companies that can't afford to care for car crash victims

RN Shara Curry watches as paramedics prepare to take her client to the hospital
Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio
RN Shara Curry watches tearfully as paramedics take a quadriplegiic car crash patient to the hospital, after her firm could no longer afford to continue the patient's care.

One year after its establishment by the state legislature, a $25 million fund designed to help financially struggling companies that take care of car crash survivors has awarded nothing.

The fund was intended to help some of the agencies that saw their reimbursements cut nearly in half as part of Michigan's 2019 no fault law.

But agencies that have applied for the funds say the its rules make it virtually impossible to qualify for assistance.

Best Care Nursing Services in Grand Rapids is one of them. The agency's Deanna Cronk said the application process was time consuming, labor-intensive, expensive, and required submitting thousands of pages of documents.

"And in the end we basically did all of these things for absolutely zero benefit to our company," she said. "At this point I no longer will look to DIFS to help in any way."

DIFS is short for the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, which was tasked with administering the fund.

Cronk said with no hope of accessing grants from the fund to offset losses, the agency will likely have to close in a few months. The company only has 15 of its most vulnerable patients left, having discharged those that had other options for care last year, such as being taken in by family members.

Cronk said many of Best Care's remaining patients have no family members capable of taking care of them, or have no family at all. She said some may have to be dropped off at the hospital at the end of the year for lack of anywhere else they can go.

Cronk and other care professionals say most nursing homes are now refusing to accept auto accident patients with traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, or both, because such individuals usually end up on Medicaid, which doesn't cover the high-tech care they require.

DIFS, in a statement, said DIFS’ role is to implement the law as written.

The law sets forth criteria and standards for providers to meet in order to access the fund, and DIFS must administer the fund as directed by the Legislature. DIFS did not impose any requirements beyond the requirements contained in the law. Anything we can do to expedite the process for providers, we have put in place, including distilling statutory requirements into a checklist and providing guidance to providers about deficiencies in their applications rather than simply rejecting them. We are here to serve as a resource for consumers, providers, and policymakers during the implementation of auto insurance reform, and we are closely monitoring the Legislature’s engagement on this issue.

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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