“We can’t wait,” shouted car accident survivors, their families and friends Wednesday, calling on state lawmakers to take action to prevent deep cuts in payments to their long-term carers.
Bills to prevent the cuts (HB 4486 and SB 314) languish in House and Senate committees, and no hearings are scheduled before elected leaders leave Lansing for the summer recess. The 45% cuts will be imposed July 1 as part of Michigan’s new auto insurance law.
Roderick Munro suffered injuries in a car accident ten years ago that made him a quadriplegic. He needs 24-hour care and said it was now in danger.
“Insurance companies are going to cut the rates they pay my home care company,” Munro said, “and one I used to be with has already decided to go out of business because of it.”
Speakers at the rally said the cuts were unconstitutional because they changed the terms of the contracts survivors had with their auto insurance companies before they were injured.
Jean Baumgard was paraplegic in 1998 after a car accident. She said state lawmakers don’t seem to care what happens to people who may lose vital home care or move out of specialized residential settings.
“They think we can wait, but they can go out and have fun with their families,” she said. “You don’t worry about who cares about us.”
Michigan’s 2019 auto insurance reform was enforced through nightly sessions in what many observers and lawmakers are calling a great rush. Dozens of state lawmakers have since signed a memorandum stating they were not told prior to the vote that the long-term carer cuts would be retroactive, thereby depriving many survivors with brain and spinal cord injuries of essential care.
Accident survivors who rely on ventilators are at a particularly high risk of legal consequences, including death. Should the companies currently providing care cease operations, there will only be a handful of beds in nursing homes across the country that they can care for.
Hospital administrators and long-term carers say there are hundreds of such patients who will strive to find alternative care in a gruesome version of medical musical chairs.
The new law also limits the number of hours a family member can be paid to care for a catastrophically injured loved one. As of July 1, they will be limited to 56 hours per week, which will drastically reduce household incomes for many of the affected families.
Opponents of the law say many people fail to understand that the cuts will affect future survivors, even those who pay for the lifelong medical care in their policy.
Because many of the high-quality home care and specialized inpatient treatment centers could be eliminated as a result of the cuts. This leaves the only option for many survivors to get an inferior bed in a nursing home with dramatically fewer rehabilitation and other benefits, regardless of how much or how little they paid for their insurance.