The House and Senate have adjourned for the week and while there is one remaining session day in October, it is likely any activity on auto no fault will wait until the lame duck session, starting Nov. 27th. The course of lame duck will be determined by the outcome of the elections in early November. Should there be a shift in party control in the legislature or the governorship switch parties, we can expect a push from House Republicans for a PIP choice plan.
Currently, Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) has taken his proposal, HB 6343 (http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2018-HB-6343), and has been shopping it around to his caucus members and leadership. While there was some discussion as to whether or not to bring it up before the elections, nothing came of it. It is important to note that current leadership is supportive of this policy, but are cautious towards running with it in its current form. Rep. Theis still publically states she wants a comprehensive reform package that offers choice and a mandatory rate rollback.
A statewide poll found that the public strongly supports the PIP benefits currently offered in our No-Fault system, with 77% of respondents stating they do not believe insurance companies when they say they want to help consumers save money. Additionally, 65% say the state does a poor job regulating insurance companies to protect consumers. Lastly, there is strong support for the Fair and Affordable package of bills currently buried in the House Insurance Committee.
Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert proposes ballot decision on Michigan’s Auto No-Fault system, but even he agrees a legislative solution is preferable; Schuette may support Duggan No-Fault Lawsuit
As BIAMI, partnering with the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN), continues to vigorously advocate for auto insurance rate reduction while protecting survivor benefits, others voices have called for knee-jerk “solutions” that promise lower rates but would leave large groups of Michiganders unprotected in the event of a catastrophic injury.
For example, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has urged that, should the legislature fail to fix it within six months, Auto No-Fault (ANF) be scrapped and the state should return to a system where every auto accident would need to be litigated. Dan Gilbert, CEO of Quicken Loans, suggests in the article below (Gilbert Weighs Launching '20 No-Fault Auto Insurance Ballot Question) that ANF should be subject to a ballot question.
Additionally, Attorney General Bill Schuette may come out in support of Mayor Duggan’s lawsuit against Auto No-Fault, which would result in him removing himself from the case. At this time, no final decision has been made by AG Schuette. However, his support for Mayor Duggan’s position on auto insurance has been noted, even going as far as stating that he is the Mayor’s “best hope.” (Click here to read the Crain’s article)
But as many legislators and leaders of involved groups note, Michigan’s auto insurance legislation is sufficiently complicated that a simplistic yes or no ballot vote wouldn’t address key issues. Gilbert himself agrees that a legislative solution is preferable, and CPAN President John Cornack reiterates that our Fair and Affordable Package is a realistic and thoughtful starting point for all parties to reach a legislative solution.
You can read Gilbert’s and others’ comments in the story below. BIAMI will continue to provide ANF updates monthly or more frequently as news breaks.
Gilbert Weighs Launching '20 No-Fault Auto Insurance Ballot Question
Asked if he's considering launching a petition drive to put initiative legislation on the 2020 ballot to reform no-fault auto insurance, Quicken Loans Chair Dan Gilbert told MIRS today, "Every option should be on the table to ensure we get the kind of reform that lowers rates and makes our cities and state more competitive."
"Michigan drivers pay the highest rates in the nation -- literally thousands of dollars more annually than across the border in Ohio, primarily, because Michigan is the only state in the nation where drivers are mandated to carry wasteful medical coverage on their auto insurance plan when they already are covered under their health insurance plan," he stated. "Additionally, the law also allows medical services and procedures to be billed at obscene rates when the medical coverage is being paid for by the auto insurance plans," he stated.
The idea drew a variety of reactions.
"We have gone down this path before with insurance-backed ballot initiatives back in 1992 and '94 which the voters resoundingly rejected," said John Cornack, President of the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN).
Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan, said he thinks it "demonstrates the frustration" people have with the lack of action on the part of the legislature. A ballot proposal would be "quite a large undertaking," but it would just be an up or down vote on whatever plan is submitted, he noted. "Hopefully, you get a better product through the legislative process," he said.
Rep. Lana Theis (R-Brighton), chair of the House Insurance Committee, agreed with Gilbert that every option "should be considered 'on the table,'" but she said she would prefer a legislative fix.
Gilbert indicated he would too, actually.
"Every day we wait is a day too long. There is an important election just weeks ahead, and we are hopeful that it will bring in leaders committed to delivering real reform and relief for all drivers in the state of Michigan," Gilbert said in his statement. "Next to auto insurance reform, there are few if any steps our leaders in Lansing could take that would have more of an immediate, positive impact on the pocketbooks of the majority of Michigan citizens."
But Theis noted that the insurance code is "many hundreds of pages long and extremely complicated," so she sees a reform by initiative as unlikely. "If this were going to be addressed at the ballot, it would likely ask for a yes or no vote on the full repeal of auto no-fault. Based on my discussions at the doors over the last few months, such a measure would pass," Theis said.
Cornack said CPAN already has a plan out there that would address the problem. "We have put forth a comprehensive and well thought-out reform package known as the Fair and Affordable Package that can, and should, be used for legislative reforms that are necessary to improve and reduce auto insurance premiums for Michigan drivers. This includes cost containment, effective rate regulation including use of non-driving rating factors and transparency of state's insurance industry and regulatory system," Cornack stated.
Kuhnmuench said he'd have to know what was in the proposal before he could say whether his Insurance Alliance would endorse it. But the keys points insurers want to see included in any reform is choice for drivers in the level of their PIP coverage, anti-fraud measures and a fee schedule for medical services. "Clearly, what we have on the books is a creature of the legislature and I think the legislature ought to fix it. In our view, we have a broken, outdated no-fault system. It was implemented by the legislature and it can be fixed by the legislature," he said.
Advocacy has been and will always be a cornerstone of the Association. As such, we joined with a number of organizations last year to form the Michigan Disability Support Alliance (MI-DSA) to fight the ACA repeal and protect Medicaid. All involved were cognizant of the fact that we will need to work on the state level, not only to preserve crucial programs like Medicaid, but also ensure the well-being of Michigan residents living with disabilities.
This year, MI-DSA has developed an initiative to educate and encourage those living with disabilities to vote in the upcoming primaries and election. Beginning in August, MI-DSA members will be hosting presentations across the state to explain why it is important to vote; the rights granted to those with disabilities in regards to voting; the responsibility all voters share; and issues regarding accessibility at polling places. There will also be the opportunity for people to register to vote.
Since last year, MI-DSA has grown from three organizations to eleven. Partner organizations now include the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Disability Rights Coalition, Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council, Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services, ARC of Michigan, Self-Advocates of Michigan, Michigan Disability Networks, and Wayne State Developmental Disability Institute. With threats to repeal the ACA and cut funding to Medicare and Medicaid, disability organizations must join together to fight for all persons living with disabilities and their families who rely on these programs and protections granted by the ACA.
Last Thursday, HB 5013 passed out of committee and now sits on the House floor for a vote. This bill will likely be brought up on the floor for a house vote this week, with a second reading on Wednesday and vote on Thursday. Mayor Duggan, a number prominent Detroit Business men and corporations, and members from the Michigan Chamber are working hard to advance this bill. Additionally, HB 5013 will increase the amount of Medicaid spending by $80 million in ten years.
IT IS TIME TO TAKE ACTION AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.
We strongly encourage you to join us at the Capitol and oppose this legislation, which would:
Authorize unprecedented dollar cap limitations on no-fault benefits
Give insurance companies greater control over patients’ medical care
Greatly increases the power of the insurance companies while taking legal rights away from patients
Only offers temporary premium rate reductions, if any at all
A strong showing of folks opposing this bill outside the house floor both days is important. Anticipate two long afternoons especially on Thursday. Session on Thursday starts at noon.
We will meet, receive a short update, gather materials and have lunch across the street from the House Office Building at the Central Methodist Church basement, 215 North Capitol from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM on Wednesday and from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM on Thursday. Salad, pizza, and beverages will be provided on Wednesday at about 11:45 AM. Lunch on Thursday will be ready about 11:00 AM prior to the start of a noon House session.
We need your help if we are going to make sure this bill is defeated. If able, we strongly encourage you to join us. If you are unable, there are still ways you can help and make your voice heard.
Email your legislators.We’ve provided a pre-written form letter, but feel free to make changes or write your own letter and send it. If you write your own, be sure they know your situation and what you stand to lose if this passes.
Call your legislators.We’ve provided talking points, but feel free to make changes or include your own. Be sure they know your situation and what you stand to lose if this passes.
Use social media to share your position and stories regarding your health care situation and be sure to use the hashtags #ProtectNoFault and #NO5013. Tell your story and let people know that the care being received would be impossible under the Duggan-Leonard plan.
Help us protect defend the system of care critical to so many Michiganders who have been, and unfortunately will be, auto accident survivors and their families.
The Brain Injury Association of Michigan serves as a conduit between brain injury survivors and the nation’s largest network of brain injury providers, as well as being a primary resource for brain injury information and support. Whether you’re a survivor, a family member or caregiver, or a provider, BIAMI membership will prove valuable.