Group Launched to Fight for Fair Auto Insurance Rates in Detroit

Several community leaders in Detroit joined together today to raise their voices against Detroit’s high auto insurance rates. Spearheaded by former State Rep. Brian Banks, the Detroit Alliance for Fair Auto Insurance launch included Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, Spirit of Love Church Pastor DaRell Reed and auto accident survivor Saundra Gay.

The new organization will seek to educate Detroit residents about Michigan’s auto insurance system and empower them to be advocates for fair auto insurance reforms at the state capitol. Key issues raised at the news conference, which can be viewed on the group’s Facebook page, include the insurance company practice of using non-driving related factors like credit scores to set higher rates, and redlining in Detroit.

Ms. Gay, who was injured in a rollover accident in 2000, is quoted on the group’s news release as saying “I’m alive today and able to be a productive member of society because of the care and upport provided by Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance coverage. It’s critical that lawmakers in Lansing do everything they can to reduce rates while ensuring accident victims get the care they need.”

The Detroit Alliance for Fair Auto Insurance said it plans to hold a series of town hall discussions throughout Detroit in May where they will educate residents about their auto insurance policies and discuss ideas for lowering auto insurance rates.

CPAN is pleased to see that the organization was adamant that any changes to Michigan’s no-fault system must protect accident survivors while also lowering rates.

More information about the Detroit Alliance for Fair Auto Insurance can be found at www.DetroitFairInsurance.org.

###


CPAN Praises No-Fault Transparency Legislation

LANSING – Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) introduced legislation today that would bring much needed transparency to Michigan no-fault auto insurance system. The legislation, Senate Bills 240 and 241, requires the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) to abide by Michigan’s Open Meetings and Freedom of Information (FOIA) acts.

In addition to Sen. Bieda’s bills, Reps. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) and Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) introduced House Bill 4354 in the State House. In addition to subjecting the MCCA to the Open Meetings Act and FOIA, his bill would require the State Insurance Commissioner to appoint a member of the public to sit on the MCCA board and empower the commissioner to disapprove of any total MCCA charge the commissioner deems excessive.

The MCCA is a fund created by the state legislature that reimburses Michigan auto insurers for personal injury claims above $555,000. The $18.8 billion fund is governed by a board of insurance industry executives who refuse to comply with state transparency laws.

In support of the legislation, CPAN spokesperson Josh Hovey issued the following statement:

“Today, more than ever, transparency is essential for a functioning democracy. We hope lawmakers from both parties will join together to support transparency and accountability for their constituents and all Michigan drivers.

“The MCCA is a critical piece of Michigan’s auto insurance system because it enables auto insurance companies to provide lifetime coverage for our state’s most seriously injured accident victims. But as a state-created organization that charges $170 on every insured vehicle in Michigan, the public expects transparency. If the insurance company executives are confident that’s a reasonable charge, they should have no problem opening up the MCCA books to public scrutiny.

CPAN has issued several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the MCCA in an attempt to obtain the organization’s rate-making data, but those requests have been denied. CPAN and the Brain Injury Association of Michigan are currently involved in a FOIA lawsuit against the MCCA. That lawsuit is now in the Michigan Supreme Court.

###

 The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault: The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault is a broad-based coalition of consumer advocate groups, lawyers, doctors, nurses and other health care providers working together to keep Michigan’s model no-fault insurance law intact. Learn more about CPAN by visiting www.ProtectNoFault.org.  


Michigan Drivers Handed Secretive $10 Auto Insurance Rate Increase

LANSING – The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) learned today that Michigan drivers will pay an additional $10 on their auto insurance premiums this year. The cost increase is the result of the insurance industry-controlled Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) increasing the fee charged to every Michigan auto insurance policy from $160 to $170 per vehicle.

The MCCA is a reinsurance fund created by the state legislature that helps reimburse insurers for costs of caring for catastrophic auto accident victims for any claim above $555,000. The organization, which reports holding $18.8 billion in assets, is governed by a board of insurance industry executives and is not subject to state Open Meetings or Freedom of Information laws.

In response to today’s announcement, CPAN spokesperson Josh Hovey issued the following statement:

“The MCCA is an important tool that helps ensure Michigan’s most seriously injured auto accident survivors receive the care they need. But the public has a right to know how it sets its rates. This is an organization created by our state government that is allowed to be controlled entirely by insurance companies without any transparency whatsoever. It’s unacceptable.”

CPAN has issued several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the MCCA in an attempt to obtain the organization’s rate-making data, but those requests have been denied. CPAN and the Brain Injury Association of Michigan are currently involved in a FOIA lawsuit against the MCCA. That lawsuit is now in the Michigan Supreme Court.

###

The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault: The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault is a broad-based coalition of consumer advocate groups, lawyers, doctors, nurses and other health care providers working together to keep Michigan’s model no-fault insurance law intact. Learn more about CPAN by visiting www.ProtectNoFault.org.


CPAN to Mayor Duggan: Comprehensive Auto Insurance Reform Must Protect Accident Survivors

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced this evening during his State of the City Address that he would urge Lansing lawmakers to support major reforms to Michigan’s auto insurance system. In response to Mayor Duggan’s comments, the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) President John Cornack issued the following statement:

“We all agree that Detroiters are paying far too much for auto insurance. However, to blame Michigan’s no-fault system is completely misleading. The medical benefits provided by Michigan’s no-fault law make up roughly one-third of the cost of a policy, so to say no-fault is the main problem behind the cost of auto insurance is simply untrue.

“The mayor’s suggestion that Michigan use Ohio, which does not have no-fault, as an example of an auto insurance system is also extremely misguided. First, dropping no-fault in favor of Ohio’s model would not significantly reduce rates. What it would do is cause major delays in care for catastrophic accident victims and result in a massive cost-shift onto the backs of Michigan taxpayers – just like it did in Colorado when their Medicaid expenses tripled after changing from a no-fault to a tort system. Michigan can’t afford the expenses and accident victims can’t afford to wait for care.

“We hope Mayor Duggan will join us in standing up for accident victims in Detroit and across the state by working toward comprehensive solutions that will reduce auto insurance costs in Michigan and at the same time provide accident victims with access to the quality care and rehabilitation benefits they need for their recovery.”

###

CPAN is a broad coalition of health care providers, patient advocates and accident survivors who are committed to preserving Michigan’s model auto no-fault insurance system. For more information, please visit www.ProtectNoFault.org.


Choice is good, but not at the expense of critical health care benefits

Our friends at the Brain Injury Association of Michigan said in a recent Facebook post, “lame duck session is coming and is scarier than Halloween.” Unfortunately, this year, that’s turning out to be true.

Late last week, Representative Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance, introduced legislation — HB 5951 — that once again puts Michigan’s no-fault system and its critical medical benefits at grave risk. The bill proposes different levels of medical benefits, starting at an abysmal $250,000 cap on medical coverage. This would leave accident victims with limited coverage and zero options.

Research shows when given the option, most consumers would only buy the cheapest option. The problem with this is unfortunately drivers cannot choose whether or not they are involved in an auto accident that changes their lives forever. For those with the cheaper options, insurers cut coverage and shift medical costs to taxpayer-funded programs like Medicaid. The increase in Medicaid cost would be significant. When Colorado eliminated their auto no-fault insurance system, their Medicaid costs associated from just the care related to motor vehicle accidents increase 205% within four years. That is absolutely not the right approach — both for those injured in an auto accident and for Michigan taxpayers.

Legislative options that cut coverage for those injured and moves the cost burden to taxpayers are becoming all to common to fix a system that all can agree needs lasting and comprehensive reform. Reducing medical benefits doesn’t only harm drivers looking for an easy way to save a few bucks each month, but it will be a detrimental impact to our state budget by overusing programs like Medicaid.

Michiganders cannot afford to allow the legislature to allow drivers to risk their recovery and our tax dollars.

No one wishes they will have to use the uncapped medical benefits of Michigan’s no-fault system, but then again, no one wishes to be in a catastrophic accident that changes their lives forever.

We need auto insurance reforms that helps contain costs without impacting the quality of care provided. We also need strong anti-fraud measures, streamlined claims processing and reasonable requirements for family-provided attendant care. Together, these reforms will reduce auto insurance costs while ensuring that Michigan’s most seriously injured accident victims have access to the quality care they need.


CPAN Responds to Michigan Court of Appeals Decision in MCCA Transparency Case

LANSING – Michigan Court of Appeals issued ruling today in the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault’s transparency lawsuit against the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA).

Earlier this year, the Michigan Supreme Court remanded CPAN’s case back to the Court of Appeals and instructed the Court to specifically address the issue of whether the MCCA is a “public body” as defined by Michigan law and whether the legislature’s exemption of the MCCA from the state Freedom of Information Act was constitutional.

Today’s Court of Appeals decision agreed with CPAN’s assertion that the MCCA is indeed a public body as defined by Michigan law. However, the Court split 2-1 in determining whether the MCCA’s exemption from FOIA laws was constitutional.

In response to the court’s decision, CPAN spokesperson Josh Hovey issued the following statement:

“This case is about far more than auto no-fault insurance. Yes, CPAN believes that having open access to the MCCA’s financial records is vital to understanding Michigan’s auto no-fault system. But at its core, this case has broad implications for the openness and transparency of Michigan’s government overall.

CPAN is pleased that the court agreed with its argument that the MCCA is indeed a ‘public body’ because it was created by an act of the Michigan legislature. However, the majority’s decision that the legislature can amend the state’s FOIA laws without amending the actual Freedom of Information Act should be of major concern to anyone who values government transparency.

The effect of the majority decision is to make it possible for the legislature to exempt itself from Article 4, Section 25 of the Michigan Constitution, which very specifically requires the legislature to ‘re-enact and publish at length’ any statute that is being amended by the subsequent act, which was done with the MCCA’s FOIA exemption. If this decision is allowed to stand, it will now be much easier for the legislature to hide exemptions to FOIA in other statutes, as was clearly pointed out in the dissenting opinion.”

CPAN’s legal counsel plans to review the court’s decision in detail over the next several weeks to determine its options for appeal.

###


Insurance Industry Proves It Will Use Every Possible Excuse to Raise Rates, But Never to Lower Them

Michigan lawmakers recently repealed an $80 million tax credit mistakenly given to auto insurance providers in 2012.  Now that this tax credit repeal has taken effect, insurers are using it as an excuse to impose a $40 rate hike on Michigan drivers. The problem: insurance companies never lowered our rates when they were enjoying their big tax credit.

According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, instead of decreasing as a result of the tax credit auto insurance premiums actually increased from an average of $1,172 to $1,264 between 2012 and 2013. Interestingly, this was the same time period when insurers were fiercely arguing in favor of draconian changes to no-fault injury coverage because they said it was the only way to lower insurance rates.

The treatment and rehabilitation services provided under Michigan’s no-fault system have often been the difference between an accident survivor living a rich, purposeful life or living permanently in an adult foster home. That is why CPAN is actively working to help provide the legislature with real reforms that improve Michigan’s auto insurance system and reduce premiums without compromising the quality of care provided.

We need auto insurance reforms that helps contain costs without impacting the quality of care provided. We also need strong anti-fraud measures, streamlined claims processing and reasonable requirements for family-provided attendant care. Together, these reforms will reduce auto insurance costs while ensuring that Michigan’s most seriously injured accident victims have access to the quality care they need.



D-Insurance isn’t what you think it is

Detroit News

Mayor Mike Duggan and the insurance companies that support his cause are trying to pull the wool over many eyes about the effect his proposed D-Insurance legislation will have on the people of Detroit.

Currently, the Michigan No-Fault Auto Insurance Law guarantees that children who are seriously injured in auto accidents have comprehensive medical coverage for any product, service or accommodation that is “reasonably necessary” for their “care, recovery or rehabilitation.” There is no monetary cap to this coverage and it is available for the entire life of the child for as long as their injury exists. The law provides this coverage to children, even if their parents failed to buy auto insurance.

But under Mayor Duggan’s plan, children whose parents buy D-Insurance will be locked out of the comprehensive medical coverage available to all other children in the state. D-Insurance children will only have $25,000 in coverage for medical treatment necessitated by an auto accident. Moreover, this $25,000 coverage has to be shared with all other family members injured in the same accident.

D-Insurance only provides $250,000 worth of coverage for medical treatment that is “necessary to save the individual’s life or treat life-threatening or permanently disabling injuries until the individual is stabilized.” It does not apply to any expense that is necessary for the person’s actual recovery and rehabilitation.

Detroit families who buy D-Insurance will also be robbed of their right under the Michigan No-Fault Law to choose their own medical providers without having to seek approval from their insurance company. When lives are on the line, families want the best treatment available for their loved ones, but D-Insurance will result in unacceptable delays in essential, time-sensitive care.

This legislation further allows insurance companies to sell this virtually worthless and Draconian insurance coverage with absolutely no guarantee that it will bring down auto insurance rates in Detroit by even a single penny.

Mayor Duggan’s legislation also allows the same type of abysmal insurance coverage to be sold in any other city in Michigan which demonstrates more than 35 percent of its motorists are uninsured. D-Insurance will inevitably spread throughout Michigan and will jeopardize the quality injury coverage Michigan has been proud to provide to catastrophically injured accident victims, especially children.

There is no question that Detroiters need relief from the unfair and unjust auto insurance rates they have no choice but to pay, but D-Insurance is a cut-rate policy that does more harm than good. Insurance companies should work together with the health care community to develop some common sense reforms. There is room for both sides to come together on imposing strong anti-fraud measures, streamlining claims processing, and fair cost-containment measures.

These reforms will reduce costs incurred by insurance companies and likely induce meaningful rate reduction by insurance companies to make coverage more affordable for all while ensuring that Michigan’s seriously injured accident victims have continued access to the quality care they need and deserve.

Dr. Owen Perlman is a specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital-Ann Arbor.