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.

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