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Should the MCCA be subject to FOIA & Open Meetings Act?

April 1, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) introduces MCCA transparency legislation with House Bills 4386-87

Rep. Henry Yanez

Should there be more transparency into the inner workings of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA), especially with regards to what it charges drivers for their annual assessment and how it’s calculated?

Yes, there certainly should.

Would it help if the MCCA were required to comply with the requirements of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Michigan Open Meetings Act?

Absolutely.

To that end, last Tuesday, March 24, 2015, Rep. Henry Yanez (D- Sterling Heights) introduced House Bill 4386, which would impose the following FOIA and Open Meetings Act requirements on the MCCA:

  • “A writing prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by the board in the performance of an official function is subject to disclosure under the freedom of information act, 1976 PA 442, MCL 15.231 to 15.246, as if the board were a public body subject to that act.”
  • “The [MCCA] board [of directors] shall conduct its business at a public meeting of the board held in compliance with the open meetings act, 1976 PA 267, MCL 15.261 to 15.275.”

Rep. Yanez also introduced House Bill 4387, which would amend the Open Meetings Act to make the MCCA a covered “public body” and to include MCCA meetings under the Act’s definition of “meeting.”

Under MCL 15.263 of the Open Meetings Act, “all meetings of a public body shall be open to the public and shall be held in a place available to the general public. All persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting …”

How the MCCA works

The MCCA pays for the No Fault medical benefits of catastrophically injured Michigan auto accident victims. It raises funds to carry out its function by charging per-vehicle assessments to the auto insurance companies doing business in Michigan. Ultimately, auto insurance consumers pay the costs of the assessment, as auto insurers are required by the No Fault Law to pass along the assessment costs in the form of higher auto insurance prices.

Currently, drivers pay $186 per year as part of their No Fault insurance.

The MCCA just announced that it will reduce its fee by $36 this year, bringing the cost down to $150 a year.

MCCA transparency lawsuit

Significantly, a similar lawsuit was filed against the MCCA and an Ingham County Circuit Court judge even ordered the MCCA to comply with FOIA by disclosing information pertaining to its rate-calculation process. The MCCA appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals and won.

The Michigan Supreme Court is considering whether it will hear the MCCA transparency case.

To learn more, please check out Michigan Auto Law’s blog post, “CPAN asks MI Supreme Court to require MCCA transparency.”

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