GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Catastrophically injured auto crash survivors, their loved ones and supporters showed up to the Kent County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday morning to ask commissioners to support a resolution asking lawmakers to find a narrow legislative fix to the state's new no-fault auto insurance law.
35 other counties throughout the state, including Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Allegan and Van Buren, already supported a resolution asking the Michigan legislature to "save care and lives" by restoring a “reasonable fee cap for home care.”
Those at Thursday’s meeting hoped to convince Kent County commissioners to join the effort.
Several survivors of car crashes spoke during a session of public comment, describing how the new law has impacted their access to vital medical care.
"I can't wait until November... This needs to be fixed now," one woman said.
"Please fix this right now. Don't wait, fix it now."
Lesley Bush spoke about his daughter Angela, who was injured in a crash 20 years ago.
"The same people who said we would fix these shortcomings, that these effects were unintended, now are saying we just need to move on," Bush explained.
"The policy that they use doesn't serve Kent County... survivors of auto accidents, their lives forever changed, are not asking for taxpayers to provide services for them, they are asking for benefits that they paid for, that they have legal contracts for."
Under the new law, which took effect on July 2, 2021, any medical service not already covered under our federal Medicare law, which includes in-home caregivers and transportation to medical services, will now only be reimbursed by insurance companies at 55% of what they were back in 2019. The law also caps the number of hours that family members can provide care to just 56 hours a week.
According to CPAN, a group focused on preserving our previous no-fault auto system, there have been at least eight people who have died since the changes went into effect, because of losing access to some care.
There are roughly 18,000 Michiganders currently receiving medical benefits from their auto no-fault policies.
A report released at the beginning of August, conducted by the Michigan Public Health and commissioned by the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, found that 6,857 crash survivors have been discharged from local care providers, and 4,082 healthcare workers have lost their jobs.
They found that 10 care companies have had to close their doors completely since the changes took effect, while 14 more companies expect to close in the next 12 months.