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Oakland, Wayne, Macomb County Execs say NO to Michigan No Fault insurance “reform”

March 3, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and his Wayne and Macomb County counterparts Robert Ficano and Mark Hackel unite against House Speaker Jase Bolger’s latest plan

Today I had the pleasure of supporting and listening to Southeast  Michigan’s three county executives. All three sent a unified message to Lansing lawmakers and to the public as to where they stand with proposed changes to Michigan’s No Fault laws, issuing a resounding “NO” to efforts to dismantle its important legal protections.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who I have had the pleasure of sitting down with and interviewing on the pages of this blog, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel stood shoulder to shoulder to defend car accident survivors with catastrophic injuries during a news conference this morning at Walk the Line to Spinal Cord Injury Recovery rehab center in Southfield.

Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger has recently introduced a substitute for last year’s House Bill 4612.  I’ve written about how bad this proposal is for consumers and the public, and how in many ways it’s just a giant  boondoggle for the state’s auto insurance industry at the expense of seriously injured automobile accident victims. For more information about Speaker Bolger’s No Fault plan, take a look at my blog post, “Top 6 reasons to say “NO” to House Speaker’s new No Fault “Reform” plan.”

Additionally, last week Sen. John Pappageorge proposed his own No Fault insurance plan in Senate Bill 818.

As an auto accident attorney, I’ve been fighting hard to protect the people of this state.  I see first-hand the incredible insurance company abuse and bad faith that already exists.  I see the people who are  hurt by what the insurance companies do.  I’ve been an outspoken opponent to HB 4612 and to Speaker Bolger’s new plan.

To start, No Fault “reform” measures would cap No medical benefits, which would leave seriously injured automobile crash victims lacking the medical care they desperately need to recover.  And these plans amount to a new (Republican) inspired tax and a giant boondoggle for the state’s profitable insurance companies, who can then shift the costs to the public by sticking tax payers with the bill by shifting the medical costs (currently covered by auto insurance premiums) to taxpayer-funded Medicaid.

L. Brooks Patterson, is an Oakland County Republican and well-known fiscal conservative. He stressed that opposition to No Fault changes are bi partisan, thus the need to unite: “Everybody is lined up against it, Republicans and Democrats alike smell a rat on this one.”

I want to share some important thoughts that I previously shared on Twitter from the three county executive leaders this morning:

Why L. Brooks Patterson is vehemently opposed to No Fault changes

Said Brooks:

“Bolger’s substitute bill would have a draconian impact on the quality of life for families and individuals living with catastrophic injuries from a car crash. There are so many fish hooks in this legislation. Here are some highlights of why we are so vehemently opposed. Bolger’s plan would:

  • Cap long-term care for individuals living with auto-related catastrophic injuries. The cap may be $10 million, but there are still going to be people who are going to go through that cap. A five-year-old girl with a spinal cord injury, for example.
  • Limit home care by family members, even though family members are proven to provide better care than strangers.
  • Opt out of providing palliative, life-long care designed to give a reasonable quality of life.
  • Limit total home care hours to a maximum of 24 hours per day, which will not allow those who are catastrophically injured to have more than one aide per shift, even when deemed necessary by a licensed physician.
  • Set a 52-week lifetime limit on physical therapy and only provide for additional increases in that limit if medical evidence can prove in advance that the person will make progress. This is a big problem. After the one year, people will be left to their own devices. For people with catastrophic injuries, they need life-long therapy.
  • Eliminate coverage for anyone riding in the car that is not a Michigan resident. In other words, visiting relatives and friends.”

Brooks also discussed the holes in Bolger’s promised “savings,” and lack of cost relief for Detroit drivers, who pay among the highest premiums in the nation:

“Bolger claims the substitute bill will provide savings, but they’re negligible in the long run. And auto No Fault is not the real cost driver for auto insurance. It’s collision and theft.

The word “reform” ranks right up there with apple pie. It suggests something is broken. But this is the best system in America. When people are taken off this kind of catastrophic care (that No Fault currently provides), it’s going to come out of their pockets. They’re moved out of insurance and on to Medicaid.”

For more information, take a look at our blog post on Speaker Bolger’s fuzzy math.

Finally, the substitute bill again ignores that there is zero data from the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to back up the proposal, Brooks noted.

“One of the things I find most distasteful is that the Catastrophic Claims are administering a $17 billion dollar fund that is in bank accounts we can’t examine. What justifies its recent raise in the MCCA assessment to $186 per year? Let us see. They operate in secrecy. They operate in offshore banks.

I’m challenging Bolger to answer this question. He is term limited. Are you going to work for the insurance industry after your term? I think that’s what this legislation is all about,” he said.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano’s concerns with No Fault changes

Executive Ficano said one of the concerns with Bolger’s plan  is that Wayne County is self-insured:

“We have 140 trucks out there salting. If this legislation is passed, and the medical benefits cap is reached, in theory, Wayne County (and the taxpayers) would have to pick up the rest for someone doing their job that gets hurt.”

And of course the sky-high insurance costs in the city of Detroit:

“The biggest challenges are instance rates for city of Detroit. Mayor Duggan said his insurance jumped from $3,000 in the suburbs to $6,000 in Detroit when he moved. If we want to look at real reform, we have to look at why it costs so much to  to insure your vehicle in Detroit and why it’s being unfairly thrust upon people who live in the city.
We want real reform that really helps people to get insurance and engage with the law – not around it because it’s so cost prohibitive.”

Said Ficano, “In 20 years starting as Wayne County Sheriff, you see a lot of accidents on the road. The attention melts away after accident, but the injuries remain. If you look across the nation in all 50 states, Michigan No Fault has been the model.”

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel on No Fault “reform”

Executive Hackel said he hasn’t had one constituent in Macomb County who has complained about auto No Fault.

He said he aims to get legislators to prioritize issues and focus the attention on road funding to prevent accidents: “I can’t help but question, does this  reform make sense? Why would we be doing this? Is there tweaking so this legislation can be agreeable to all?”

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