It was reported today that the Michigan House of Representatives will take up the Senate passed no-fault bill tomorrow in Lansing.
The Senate bill, which was just passed on Thursday, takes a butchers knife to the Michigan no-fault law, giving everything the insurance industry wants and while guaranteeing nothing for Michigan motorists and policyholders.
Some of the low lights include ending the ability for hospital, doctors and other medical providers from collecting a reasonable and customary charge for treating auto accident victims. Instead, they will be forced to accept a much smaller reimbursement rate – one that has yet to be fully fleshed out – but will certainly benefit insurance companies to the detriment of doctors and hospitals.
Another low light includes limitations on the payment of attendant care. Currently, a person who performs personal care on a person recovering from a car accident is able to get paid for the work they do at an hourly rate that is reasonable and customary. Many caregivers providing skilled nursing obtain reimbursement in the $20 per hour range, or more. This is a fair rate given the work that is required for many accident victims, especially catastrophic injury cases.
The new law seeks to end this, placing an arbitrary $15 per hour cap on attendant care payments. This cap remains no matter what type of work is required.
In addition, a $200 per month deductible must be met before any payments are made by the insurance carrier. This deductible amount is ridiculous when one considers the fact a person receiving attendant care is completely disabled from work, and therefore unable to afford the deductible in the first place.
Perhaps most unsettling about the proposed law is the “Fraud Authority” that will be set up by the insurance industry.
The central task of the Fraud Authority is to investigate and eliminate no-fault fraud, specifically fraud by claimants making and asserting their right to no-fault benefits. Although this sounds fair on paper, in reality it will be nothing more than a way for insurance carriers to become even more aggressive in their denial of claims.
Using the strong arm of the so-called Fraud Authority, I can only imagine what tricks insurance companies will utilize to scare doctors, family members and claimants themselves into minimizing and ultimately not paying no-fault claims.
And make no mistake, the Fraud Authority will not have a dual mandate to discover and eliminate fraud perpetrated by insurance carriers. The door does not swing both ways. Insurance companies will still be able to lie without the threat of bad faith claims or punitive damages.
Michigan has the best and most robust auto insurance system in the nation. It provides claimants with wonderful benefits, including wage lost benefits, reimbursement for prescription drugs and medical mileage, payment and reimbursement for medical expenses as well as other benefits.
The insurance backed bills that are going to the House seek to destroy this system. In return, policyholders are guaranteed nothing. Not lower premiums, not more flexible insurance choices. Not anything.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. urge you to contact your state rep and tell them to vote on Michigan no-fault reform.