Insurance-backed Republicans on committee betting that promises of savings in bill will be too tempting for full House to resist
Insurance industry-backed politicians on the House Insurance Committee have approved, on a 9-5 vote, the insurance industry-backed No Fault reform plan in House Bill 5013.
Now, it’s off to the full Michigan House of Representatives for consideration and, possibly, a vote.
It’s beyond troubling that the “yay” votes that got this horrible bill voted out of committee came from Republicans on the committee who have received well over $250,000 in campaign money from the insurance industry.
Bur what’s truly outrageous about the substitute bill that’s being sent to the House?
The only significant change from the original bill is a cynical “fix” that gives the appearance of guaranteeing savings to all drivers, but is just as misleading and full of ways for auto insurance companies to avoid as the original bill.
HB 5013 destined to be ‘dead on arrival’ in the Senate?
Originally, HB 5013 — which is backed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) and House Insurance Committee Chair Lana Theis (R-Brighton) — only guaranteed savings for drivers who choose the $25,000 cap. That is a cap I’ve strongly opposed as an auto accident attorney, as it doesn’t come close to covering the average No Fault PIP medical claim after a car accident.
At least on paper, the amendment to HB 5013 that was approved today, which was offered by Rep. Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe), proposes to change the previous bill by guaranteeing:
- 20% savings for drivers who select HB 5013’s $500,000 No Fault benefits cap.
- 10% savings for drivers who choose to keep their existing, unlimited medical benefits. (H-3, Substitute for House Bill No. 5013, Page 61)
Will it survive the Michigan Senate, even assuming it passes the full House? Many seasoned political observers think this proposal is also destined for the dustbin once it gets to the Senate. Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) has already stated clearly, unequivocally and repeatedly that such “price control” measures will be “dead on arrival” in the Senate.
We’re still not falling for this new auto No Fault reform window dressing
This is politicking at its worst — and its most insulting.
These so-called savings guarantees — like the original, limited one — are nothing more than window dressing to try to entice an already reluctant House to pass this sham of a No Fault reform bill.
It is just a giant boondoggle to the insurance companies.
Plain and simple: The insurance industry-backed Republicans that voted HB 5013 out of committee yesterday are betting that just dangling the thought of lower auto No Fault insurance prices — however unrealistic the promise of savings may be — will be too tempting for House members to resist.
Let’s have real reform in this auto insurance reform plan
Rather than spending three days’ worth of hearings only to agree on a fake “fix,” why didn’t these politicians roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of actually fixing the many broken aspects of the Duggan-Leonard-Theis auto No Fault reform plan, such as:
- Get rid of the ridiculously inadequate $25,000 cap on all medical, wage loss and replacement services benefits for injured car accident victims.
- Set a fair and reasonable fee schedule at 185% of Workers’ Compensation.
- Eliminate the arbitrary and draconian restrictions on in-home, family-provided attendant care.
- Eliminate the provisions that make it easier for auto insurers to deny and/or cut-off No Fault benefits.
- Eliminate the provisions that make it tougher for car accident victims to recover unpaid, overdue No Fault benefits.
- Eliminate the provisions that will make it easier for auto insurers to deny or delay payment to doctors and hospitals for their care and treatment of car crash victims.
- Eliminate the provisions that empower auto insurers to harass doctors and hospitals and, thus, discourage them from treating Michigan auto accident victims.
Or better yet, just scrap HB 5013 and devote some time to the recently introduced package of bills that present a real opportunity for lowering car insurance prices AND preserving vital No Fault benefits and legal protections.
How much insurance money went to pols who voted “yay” to Michigan No Fault reform?
As I noted in a previous blog post, the politicians pushing for HB 5013’s No Fault reform plan have received more than $250,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry.
Specifically, including House Speaker Leonard (an architect of the Duggan-Leonard-Theis plan) and eight of the nine House Insurance Committee members who voted HB 5013 out of committee, they have received $253,075 in insurance-industry.
Those eight “yay” voters were: House Insurance Committee Chair and sponsor of House Bill 5013 Lana Theis (R-Brighton); Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), who is Majority Vice-Chair of the House Insurance Committee; Tom Barrett (R-Potterville); Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville); Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe); Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton); Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain); and Jason Wentworth (R-Clare).
The ninth “yay” vote came from Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Williams Township), who has received $4,000 in campaign contributions from the insurance industry since 2013.