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Accident survivors continue call for lawmakers to address issues with no fault changes amid MCCA payments

Lansing in fall- Michigan State Capitol
Jake Neher
Michigan Public Radio Network
Accident survivors and their supporters gathered inside the state Capitol Tuesday to plead with lawmakers fix problems with Michigan’s auto insurance law.

Accident survivors are expressing dismay at news Michigan auto owners will receive $400 refund checks. Those will use surplus money from a fund meant to pay for their treatment.

An organization of insurance companies that covers claims for catastrophically injured people called the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, or MCCA, runs the fund.

Anita Fox is director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS). She said the surplus is due to changes in Michigan’s auto insurance law.

“The MCCA determined that they could safely return $3 billion while still leaving enough of a cushion on top of the excess of $20 billion that remains in that fund in addition to pay for the future medical costs for accident victims,” Fox said.

The new auto-insurance law limits the amount of money care providers can charge for their services. Many providers are going out of business and survivors are losing their care.

Nick Long is both a survivor and someone who runs a care providing company.

“You’re stealing that way from somebody that’s a quadriplegic in their home that needs care. And because of—they haven’t fixed this law, there’s a surplus of money. Well, that money belongs to someone else,” Long said.

He’s expressing concern the refunds could make it harder for lawmakers to change the law.

Fox said her agency is committed to ensuring survivors don’t lose care. For her, the issue of refund checks and providing adequate care for survivors are two separate questions.

“There’s the money that’s available and all policy holders paid into it. But that doesn’t mean that the auto insurers have any less responsibility to provide continuity of care up to what’s ever medically appropriate up to the limits of the policy for every single accident victim,” Fox said.

But the law made big cuts to how much money providers receive and many survivors are already losing care.

Fox is encouraging survivors having trouble receiving that continuity of care to call her department’s business hours hotline at 833-ASK-DIFS.

Still, for survivors, it has been a long and exhausting road attempting to reach lawmakers about restoring their care providers’ reimbursement fees to an adequate amount.

Survivor Braxton Wood sat in his wheelchair outside the state Senate chambers Tuesday morning alongside other survivors and advocates in hopes of speaking with lawmakers about the need to change the law.

For Wood, the care he received under Michigan’s old no-fault auto insurance system allowed him to stand again and make other progress he never thought he would. He said he’s been regressing since the new law took effect and his treatment is no longer covered.

“It’s just not fair whatsoever that people think that they need $400 versus me having someone take me to and from therapy in order to do that. And if I can’t go to therapy—every day that I don’t—it gets worse,” Wood said.

Several bills have been introduced aimed at addressing problems with Michigan’s new auto insurance law but none have made any progress so far.

Several service providers have gone out of business since it took effect with many sharing concerns that it could be a doomsday scenario for the state’s at-home care industry.