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Republicans in the Michigan House of Representatives have made clear that when the session resumes this fall, amending the Michigan No-Fault Act is going to be a top priority. But no-fault reform is a controversial, and complicated issue, and lawmakers should make sure they take their time and get it right.
Michigan’s No-Fault Act is designed to protect the state’s motorists from medical expenses that could send their lives into a tailspin. It is designed to make sure no one – from passengers to pedestrians – injured by a motor vehicle falls through the cracks. But for years, the law has faced numerous attempts to undercut its protections and shift the cost of catastrophic accidents onto their victims, and ultimately the tax payers.
This session’s no-fault reform bill passed the Senate on April 16, 2015, over complaints from Democrats that they had no chance to review the substituted version. But a push by protesters and medical providers slowed the bill’s progress in the House of Representatives.
Gideeon D’Assandro, a spokesman for House Speaker Kevin Cotter says no-fault will become a priority when the house resumes. He told MLive.com:
“I think they’ve had some really productive discussions and it’s something that you could see a lot more work on in the fall.”
The bills up for consideration, Senate Bills 248 and 249, aren’t designed with consumers in mind. They don’t ensure rates will go down. Instead they broadly prohibit “excessive” rates.
For the most seriously injured, no-fault reform takes a much bleaker turn. SB 248 closes access to the Catastrophic Claims Association – a public association paid for by insurance companies which pays no-fault benefits beyond $530,000. In its place, a new organization would be formed with the power to reject catastrophically injured motorists if their paperwork is incomplete. The costs paid by this organization would be charged directly to consumers.
While the bill does nothing to protect consumer costs, it goes out of its way to limit the costs paid by insurance providers. Under the new bill, insurance providers will be allowed to set medical provider fees by consensus and second guess patients’ attendant care needs.
The bill would also create a Michigan Automobile Insurance Fraud Authority, which has the power to investigate and prosecute auto insurance fraud committed by consumers. But the organization has no authority to limit the abuses committed by the insurance industry every day.
Senate Bills 248 and 249, now before the Michigan House of Representatives are no good for motorists or consumers. Instead, they insulate the industry from risk at the expense of Michigan tax payers and drivers. But there is still time to protect yourself from these changes. Call your Michigan House Representative today and tell him or her to vote NO on SB 248 and 249.
Image Source: “Steve & Christine from USA” via wikipedia (modified for size)