Dr. Andary spoke with CPAN General Counsel Steve Sinas about his unique experiences with the Michigan no-fault system and how it should be preserved.
Hundreds of individuals converged on Lansing, Michigan over the past few days in opposition to SB 248, which would, as currently written, have devastating consequences on our no-fault insurance system. Auto accident survivors, medical providers, and legal experts have been making their voices heard, educating not only the general public about the wonderful system we currently have, but also our legislators who have the power to change all of that in an instant. While not everyone was able to testify, we hope that stories will continue to be shared, just like Dr. Michael Andary shared his experiences with CPAN General Counsel Steve Sinas this week.
Dr. Andary has been a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor for over 32 years. For the last 25 years, he has practiced in Lansing, Michigan. In addition to seeing patients in all local hospitals in the Lansing area, he also teaches at Michigan State University. Dr. Andary’s experiences with no-fault come as a doctor who treats auto accident survivors, and, as a spouse of an auto accident survivor who was catastrophically injured. On December 5, 2014, Dr. Andary’s wife, Ellen, was coming home from her son’s hockey game when the car in which she was a passenger was struck by a drunk driver. She will be released sometime in May 2015.
Dr. Andary’s experiences give him a unique perspective on SB 248. As a doctor, he has seen that the system works well, especially for rehabilitative and acute care for auto accident victims. The level of care our state provides as a result of our no-fault system is the envy of doctors in other states, who unfortunately cannot provide their patients with the same level of care. Compared to other states, Michigan provides better services with regard to long-term rehabilitative care and home care, decreasing the need to send accident survivors to nursing homes, as is the case elsewhere.
With regard to home care, Dr. Andary expressed how grateful he was for the options and benefits the Michigan no-fault system provides, especially since he now has to think about home care for his wife once she is released from the hospital. Because of the no-fault system as it currently stands, he doesn’t have to worry about quitting his job to take care of his wife – the quality home care his family can access allows him and others who are in his situation this option.
The “negotiation” of reimbursement rates described in SB 248 was also addressed by Dr. Andary during his video testimony. It’s really not much of a negotiation. In his experience, insurance companies just state what they are going to pay, and that’s it. In order to “negotiate,” he would have to give up valuable time that would otherwise be devoted to patient care; even he does try to reach a compromise, insurance companies haven’t wanted to play ball. As Dr. Andary noted, “They have the money, they have the data, and they have the time.”
Finally, Dr. Andary addressed the fraud concern and the fraud authority SB 248 would establish. In his experience, patients who are denied coverage of needed treatment either go without while fighting with their insurance company (thus compromising their recovery), or, they do not have either the resources or support system to advocate on their behalf, and, therefore cannot fight to receive coverage for the treatment they need. As written, the concern with fraud as expressed in SB 248 is one-sided. There is no provision for the investigation of fraud or abuse perpetrated by insurance companies against their insureds.
Dr. Michael Andary’s story is just one of many anecdotes about personal experiences with the Michigan no-fault system and how it truly provides for severely, catastrophically injured auto accident survivors. Stories like his must be shared with not only the general public, but especially with our legislators as they contemplate harming a system that has done so much for so many.
We encourage everyone to continue to share their stories about how no-fault has impacted their lives. Make your voices heard.