Steve Sinas, Lansing attorney and CPAN General Counsel, briefed media outlets on impact of SB 248.
As a result of Senate Bill 248, there has been a flurry of action over the past couple of days in the auto no-fault realm, taking place right here in Lansing, Michigan. Our Lansing no-fault lawyers have been keeping abreast of the situation and will continue to keep the people of Michigan informed about the implications any of these proposed changes to our no-fault insurance law.
As you probably know, at the end of week, the Michigan Senate passed SB 248, which would, if enacted, drastically impact our current no-fault system as we know it – and not for the better. There is so much to consider when thinking about Michigan no-fault law, which is why any decisions regarding how it should be “reformed” must be done thoughtfully, carefully, and seriously. Pushing SB 248 through committee without giving legislators a chance to read through and thoroughly consider changes made to the bill, is no way to govern and is not conducive to effecting meaningful legislative change.
Lansing auto accident attorney and CPAN General Counsel Steve Sinas had the opportunity to brief the media on SB 248 in a press conference on Thursday. Among other things, Steve noted that regarding one aspect of the bill that would create a new version of our current Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA). However, it was unclear what would happen to the money that is currently held by the MCCA (remember, the per-vehicle assessments paid annually, on top of auto insurance premiums, go to this organization). Will that money be returned to consumers? Will it be kept by insurance companies?
In addition, Steve Sinas opined that the proposed “fraud authority” is also problematic. In addition to the fact that it only seems to be focused on alleged fraud perpetrated by auto accident survivors, it does little to protect consumers from insurance companies that suddenly decide to stop paying no-fault benefits, with no valid reason, and to the detriment of those who rely on those benefits for rehabilitative care after suffering severe, catastrophic injury.
Among the other reforms proposed under SB 248 include hour and wage caps on attendant care providers, regardless of the number of individuals needed to provide care, as well as the level of care that was being provided, as well as provisions limiting the rate of reimbursement no-fault medical providers could seek from insurance companies, potentially reducing the amount of effective, quality care health care professionals could provide to their severely, catastrophically injured auto accident survivors.
In order to understand how devastating SB 248 is, think about some of the current benefits existing under no-fault law. As it stands, your insurance company is required to pay for allowable expenses, defined as “all reasonable charges incurred for reasonably necessary products, services, and accommodations for an injured person’s care, recovery, or rehabilitation.”
Among the services that your insurance company is required to cover under the law include attendant care, residential accommodations, vocational rehabilitation and training, special transportation, medical mileage, and case management services, just to name a few. Of course, medical treatment, as long as it is reasonably necessary towards your care, recovery, and rehabilitation from any injury sustained in an auto accident is also covered. This provision has been a saving grace for so many families who might otherwise have been bankrupted by the level of care needed to care for either themselves or a loved one, or might not have had access to high-quality medical care.
However, what is interesting about SB 248 is that while so many supporters of the bill also emphasize the importance of reducing the cost of insurance for the people of Michigan, a number of attempts made to include language to that effect were struck down in committee. Therefore, as the bill currently stands, even though much is made about reducing costs incurred by no-fault insurance providers, there is nothing guaranteeing that costs would be lowered for everyday consumers.
We will continue to cover Michigan Senate Bill 248 on our blog. Stay tuned for more updates.