SOUTHFIELD, Michigan (WXYZ) – Many car accident survivors with catastrophic injuries say if Michigan lawmakers fail to act, their lives are at risk.
In 2019, the legislature passed a comprehensive package of laws to lower insurance tariffs. A regulation that comes into force on July 1 is a cause for concern for thousands of families. Reimbursement for catastrophically injured victims will be reduced by 45%.
“I’m worried about the future,” said Erica Coulston.
When Coulston was 23 years old, she was paralyzed after a car accident. It is dependent on the care of independence. It has allowed her to thrive personally and professionally. She is President of Walk the Line Recovery Therapy, which provides physical therapy for patients with brain trauma or spinal cord injuries. Many are also accident survivors.
“When our customers don’t have the care they need to get to the places they need, it affects us as a company,” she said.
At Walk the Line Recovery Therapy in Southfield, Justin Sabbaugh received physical therapy on Friday. The Novi man has been paraplegic since a car accident in 1991. He is dependent on the care of his basic needs. Nurses help him dress, eat, get out of the home and into church, and live a full life. He says some servants would earn below the minimum wage if the 45% cut went into effect.
“The agency that looks after me could go out of business,” Sabbaugh said.
He said thinking about what his future will be if this happens would take a mental toll.
“In all honesty, it’s almost suicidal to tell the truth,” he said. “The thought that I would go bankrupt to try to add on what insurance is taking away. And this is my life. “
“I can’t be left alone for a period of time,” said Brian Woodward, who is also paraplegic.
Woodward said he was able to live a full life and work in the auto industry because of auto insurance support. He says his companion literally saved his life just last night.
“I passed out completely and they were able to help me get around. We wouldn’t be doing this interview now if I didn’t take care of it, ”he said.
He feels that lawmakers who have passed the 45% cut are trying to steal what has already been paid for from him.
“They allow insurance companies to break a contract,” said Woodward.
First Call Home Health Care in the Clinton Ward said if the cuts go into effect they must be closed.
“We will not be able to provide services with a 45% wage cut, and our patients will not be able to find a place within the medical system here in Michigan in a day,” said Bob Mlynarek, co-owner of First Call Home Health Care.
Some of his patients are ventilated and have been unable to find facilities to stay alive.
“Our patients are being taken to the hospital,” said Mlynarek. “Guardians are called.” Adult protection services are called. This is not an exercise. It’s not an exaggeration, ”said Mlynarek.
When the bill was passed, the insurance industry said it would end the price cut in the care industry. Companies that serve patients say that an arbitrary 45% cut that is not based on original prices will put those who did not make price cuts out of business. Their margins are well below the statutory reductions.
Mlynarek says it’s not about cutting prices. The point is to completely end care by keeping the industry underfunded. He says insurance companies have already had the opportunity to challenge interest rates, and they do so regularly in court. The judges would review the allegations of scooping and force adjustments.
“We’re charging $ 70 an hour for nursing as a reimbursement rate from the insurance company. We pay a nurse $ 40 an hour. Now you need to add 20% for wage taxes and employee compensation. And we have 13 support people in the office. And they want to reimburse us $ 38 of that $ 70. You can see the math is not working. “
Mlynarek said he heard people say that care companies can be eliminated and patients can coordinate their own care. He said coordinating the employment of people around the clock while complying with state and federal labor laws is an important task. He says people need to remember that some catastrophic accident survivors cannot speak. Insurance companies are also not always easy to work with
The Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council said a survey found that eight in ten rehab and home health care providers expect to close their doors when the cuts go into effect. It is expected that 6,000 accident victims will lose care and 5,000 healthcare providers will lose jobs as a result.
Two lawmakers have passed laws to prevent the 45% cut.
State Senator Curtis Hertel, a Democrat from Lansing, presented Senate Draft 314.
“This is something lawmakers should go back and fix,” Hertel said.
State Representative Douglas Wozniak, a Republican from Shelby Township, introduced House Bill 4486. He said he was thinking of his neighbor’s daughter who had a catastrophic accident.
“When I look at the ages of his daughter and my daughter, it’s about the same. And if that had happened to my daughter. Not good, ”said Wozniak.
7 Action News reached out to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office as she signed the 2019 House and Senate laws. This letter, which she wrote in response to inquiries about the 45% cut, was given to us in response.
BIAM Letter 050621 from WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd
The legislature should only be in session for a few more weeks. If you have an opinion on this, now is the time to contact your lawmaker.