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Senator Arlan Meekhof’s shocking hypocrisy on No-Fault car insurance reform

September 12, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

West Olive Republican Arlan Meekhof condemns ‘price fixing’ for car insurance companies, but is just fine with it for ordinary people

No-Fault car insurance reform

One might think when listening to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) talk about No-Fault car insurance reform that he is quite a hypocrite. Sen. Meekhof has condemned what he calls “price fixing” for car insurance companies, but he is apparently just fine with it when it comes to ordinary people who’ve been seriously injured in car accidents.

That’s quite the double standard.

Sen. Meekhof condemns what he calls price fixing when it would limit what car insurance companies charge consumers for auto insurance, but he advocates price fixing when it limits what car crash victims can recover from No-Fault insurers for necessary in-home attendant care services they receive.

Why the double standard for this politician cloaking himself in conservative free market principles? Personally, I can think of about 53,000 reasons.

Sen. Meekhof has received $53,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry — a fact that I blogged about in my post, “What’s really motivating the campaign to change Michigan’s No Fault laws?

Recently, newspapers have been abuzz with reports that lawmakers may be considering a No-Fault car insurance reform plan (spearheaded by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, architect of the horrible D-Insurance proposal).

But insurance companies, especially “highly profitable” insurance companies like the ones that sell auto No-Fault insurance in Michigan, don’t like that their own profit margins may be curtailed (ignore for a moment that Michigan law requires drivers to purchase car insurance from these same insurance companies, and punishes drivers with significant criminal and civil penalties if drivers do not purchase insurance).

Appalled that these same car insurance companies who are so generous to him might see their own unregulated profit margins cut on a product that his own constituents are required by law to purchase, The Detroit News reported Sen. Meekhof as saying:

  • “That’s price fixing … When do Republicans get in between a private transaction and set what prices are? The market should dictate what they are based on risk and other factors.”
  • Any No-Fault car insurance reform plan that includes mandatory rate rollbacks, i.e., price reductions, will be “dead, dead, dead” when it reaches the Michigan Senate.

Notably, that’s very different from what Sen. Meekhof is saying when it comes to ordinary people.

Sen. Meekhof’s opposition to “price fixing” disappears when it comes to the attendant care provided to car crash injury victims who require significant help for catastrophic personal injuries they’ve received. Many of these people can’t even dress themselves.

The Detroit News reported:

“[T]he majority leader is attempting to revive momentum for a plan the Senate approved late last year that would have … limited paid ‘attendant care’ hours for family members of auto accident victims …”

That plan of apparently acceptable “price fixing” was part of Senate Bill 248 (passed by the Senate on April 16, 2015) and it provided:

A maximum reimbursement rate of $15 per hour for in-home, family-provided attendant care “regardless of the level of care provided” and “regardless of whether the family or household member is licensed or otherwise authorized to render the attendant care under …”

In 2014, Sen. Meekhof backed an identical $15/hour price-fix for in-home, family-provided attendant care in his Senate Bill 1148, which “died” due to inaction at the end of the 2013-14 legislative session.

Not surprisingly, the Republican’s SB 1148 failed to require any price-fixes for auto insurers on what they could charge consumers.

How much money has the insurance industry given other politicians pushing for so-called auto No-Fault reform?

I noted above that Senate Majority Leader Meekhof has received $53,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry.

But he’s not the only politician — with the power to advance or thwart auto No-Fault insurance-related legislation — who has benefitted greatly from the insurance industry’s lavish campaign contributions.

Consider the following, which I discussed in my “What’s really motivating the campaign to change Michigan’s No Fault laws?” blog post:

  • House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-Dewitt, MI), who is a leading proponent of changing Michigan’s No-Fault laws, has taken approximately $80,000 in campaign donations from the insurance industry.
  • Joe Hune (R-Fowlervillle), Chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, has received $93,000 in insurance donations.
  • Lana Theis (R-Brighton), Chair of the House Insurance Committee, has received $19,000 in insurance donations.

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