The close of the 2016 legislative session brings with it ill-conceived and mean-spirited No Fault proposals such as harsh limits on attendant care, caps on PIP benefits for uninsured car accident victims and the “deadly-for-Detroiters” D-Insurance Plan
This 2016 legislative session had more proposed changes to the Michigan No Fault law than any year I have seen, and this Auto Lawyers Blog has been a harsh critic of bills that would seek to dismantle the life-saving medical benefits and legal protections guaranteed to seriously injured car and truck accident victims by our state’s No Fault laws.
Most of these proposed changes were ugly boondoggles proposed by lawmakers beholden to the state’s powerful – and highly profitable- insurance industry.
Luckily, not a single one of these anti-consumer bills became law this year.
And because the 2015-16 legislative session ends on December 31, 2016 (tomorrow), these bills will have “died” as the New Year begins, and consumer advocates and insurance attorneys won’t have to hear about or contend with them again.
At least not these specific bills.
Sadly, more proposals to change the Michigan No Fault law will surely come in 2017 (and now that the hospitals appear to have received a sweet heart deal and have broken ranks with the rest of the state’s medical providers who treat auto accident victims, the odds of one of these bills becoming law in 2017 have probably improved). The insurance industry – and some lawmakers who seem to care more about taking legal protections away from consumers to help further boost insurance company profits – have a nasty habit of recycling these poorly-thought-out, failed boondoggles year after year after year.
Perhaps 2017 will finally be the year we see dramatic further changes to our No Fault laws.
For now, though, we can safely say, “Farewell! Hope to never see you again,” to the following unsuccessful, legislative efforts to undo all the good that our No Fault law has been doing for Michigan automobile accident victims for more than 40 years:
2016’s lame “Lame Duck” No Fault plan
Although it was (wisely) never introduced, this No Fault reform farce was discussed among lawmakers and the media during the lame duck session. This horrible plan was notable for:
- Limiting No Fault coverage of in-home, family-provided attendant care to 56 hours per week, leaving seriously injured motor vehicle accident victims without necessary care the remaining 115 hours per week; and
- Eliminating the guarantee of unlimited No Fault medical benefits for uninsured auto accident victims (such as passengers and pedestrians) and replacing the guarantee with a cap of $400,000.
House Bill 5951
The low-points of Rep. Jason Sheppard’s (R-Temperance) so-called No Fault PIP “Choice” bill was that it would:
- Leave drivers without enough No Fault medical coverage in the event they were catastrophically injured;
- Made no guarantee of actual savings for Michigan car insurance consumers;
- Require drivers to continue to pay their annual, per vehicle assessments for the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA), even if they’ve opted out of having catastrophic injury coverage.
Senate Bill 248
This bill took off like lightening! Less than a month after it was introduced, it was passed by the Senate and sent to the House … where it languished and (thankfully) was never acted on. One of the principal flaws in this bill was its targeting of the people who care enough about their family members and loved ones who have been injured in car, truck and/or motorcycle accidents to make sacrifices in their own lives so they can provide attendant care in the home. Specifically, the bill would subject providers of in-home attendant care to new, unprecedented and permanent restrictions on hourly pay and payable hours.
Senate Bill 288
This is the infamous D-Insurance Plan, about which I have been a frequent and very vocal critic. Why was Duggan’s D-Insurance plan such a “bad deal” for Detroiters? Well, let me count the ways:
- It imposed a woefully inadequate $25,000 cap on all (post-emergency room-related) No Fault benefits – medical care, wage loss and replacement services, combined;
- It forbade car accident victims from choosing their own doctors and allowed insurers to require that automobile accident victims be treated by a physician within the insurer’s “limited provider network”
- Motor vehicle accident victims would have to get “preauthorization” for all medical care and treatment otherwise it wouldn’t be covered by No Fault;
- No guarantee of long-term savings for consumers as a result of the No Fault benefits and protections being sacrificed; and
- Detroiters, despite no longer having the full No Fault coverage that the rest of the state enjoys, would continue to pay more for their auto insurance than everyone else in Michigan. To learn more, please check out my blog post, “How I would change Mayor Duggan’s D-Insurance Plan to actually protect Detroiters.”
How to create consumer savings & protect No Fault benefits
If lawmakers are serious in 2017 about helping car insurance consumers save money while simultaneously protecting and preserving the benefits and protections guaranteed to auto accident victims by Michigan’s No Fault Law, then here are a few proposals I hope they’ll consider:
- Empower Michigan’s Insurance Commissioner to stop auto insurers from charging excessive prices.
- Regulate excessive auto insurance company profits.
- Create a No Fault medical-provider fee schedule.