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How No-Fault insurance “reform” would hurt car accident victim Sam Howell

November 17, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

There are two months left in the current legislative session. This means Michigan’s No-Fault insurance “reform” bills are still looming.

Currently, Michigan requires drivers to carry No-Fault auto insurance, which provides lifetime (reasonably necessary) medical care for the most catastrophically injured car accident victims, and many other life-saving benefits for very serious auto-related injuries such as attendant care nursing services.

But these reform bills would cap medical benefits and attendant care to a dangerously low amount. When injury victims are cut off, they will be pushed onto Medicaid.  And who pays for these medical expenses?  The burden would fall onto Michigan taxpayers — instead of the auto insurance companies that are required by law to protect them, and who already enjoy some of the highest profitability margins in the entire country here in Michigan.

That’s called having your cake and eating it too.

I’ve written about Erica Nader Coulston, a woman who sustained a paralyzing spinal cord injury in a car accident. Erica is not only a survivor, she is an advocate for No-Fault insurance in Michigan and she’s been rallying hard to protect this system. She also runs a spinal cord injury rehab center in Southfield called Walk the Line. Erica wrote a compelling editorial in the Detroit Free Press. She put a face on the devastation that would occur for Michigan auto accident victims if these vital No-Fault benefits are taken away under the “reform” measures. Erica posed the question, “What would you want for your daughter, mother, sister or wife?”

In other words, if your daughter, mother, sister or wife were paralyzed in a car accident, wouldn’t you want their medical bills to be covered under Michigan No-Fault, and for them to have the nursing care that they require to survive?

Today I’d like to share another story about an auto accident victim that would be devastated from No-Fault reform. His name is Sam Howell.

Sam was in a car crash in February 2005 that put him in a coma for over a year. He had a 3% chance of survival. Sam cannot walk on his own. He has a traumatic brain injury that affects how he communicates with people.

He needs 24-hour, around-the-clock nursing care. Sam continues to receive treatment from cognitive, physical, occupational and recreational therapists.

This is all possible because of Michigan’s No-Fault auto insurance system. Without it, Sam’s family would have gone bankrupt within months and Sam wouldn’t have had access to his life saving, healing care.

MLive outlined Sam’s story, “Michigan man, who beat the odds after car crash, fights against no-fault insurance reform.”

In the article, MLive points out that opponents of the No-Fault system “point to cases of people inappropriately cashing in on insurance checks for providing in-home care.”

This is just ludicrous. Sam’s parents, who both had to quit their jobs to provide this care, would agree.

Sam’s father is former State Rep. Jim Howell, who is an outspoken critic of No Fault “reform.”

Jim and his wife say they haven’t been “enriched” by insurance payments for attendant care to take care of their son and would do anything to avoid their current situation.

Please think of Sam and Erica when you hear the proponents of No-Fault “reform” (ie. the insurance company propaganda machine) say that it’s needed to cut down on the costs of insurance in this state. In reality, reform would only shift the costs to the taxpayers and away from the auto insurance companies who continue to rake in record-breaking profits.

If the No-Fault reform legislation does not pass during the lame duck session, lawmakers would have to start over again next year.

 – Photo courtesy of MLive

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