LANSING, Mich. (March 4, 2022) — Sens. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), and Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) introduced legislation yesterday to help address some of the immediate and necessary needs of Michigan residents who survived catastrophic auto accidents.
If passed and signed into law, Senate Bills 945-947 would give family units and their support systems more flexibility to provide reimbursable care (SB 947; McMorrow), eliminate the use of standards not derived from medical professionals from being used to deny treatment (SB 945; Chang), and refine the term “medical treatment” to carve out certain products, services, and accommodations from the fee cap system (SB 946; Geiss).
“An auto accident affects more than just the people and vehicles directly involved — it affects whole families and friends, financially and physically, especially when those people take on the role of a caregiver to a survivor,” Sen. McMorrow said. “A catastrophic injury upends the lives of both the injured and their families. Affording those who have become caregivers more flexibility is necessary to support this life-changing adjustment, so they can focus on providing care.”
The Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reached an agreement in the spring of 2019 to reform Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system and lower the state’s auto insurance costs, providing relief to Michigan drivers who were paying some of the highest rates in the country.
The reforms that resulted from that legislation started taking effect in the summer of 2020 and included giving drivers the option to choose their preferred level of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and establishing a fee schedule for how much health care providers could bill insurance companies when treating auto-related injuries.
“Auto accidents are an unfortunate reality many Michiganders face, and crash survivors need to get adequate medical care. We have heard from accident survivors, their caregivers, and their family members who are crying out for change,” Sen. Chang said. “My legislation would help ensure all of these victims get the treatment they need so they can live with dignity, and not be prevented — by the technicalities or minutia of our law — from getting the help that they deserve.”
Since its implementation, care for survivors has been facing a crisis. One example is that the excessively stringent method used to cap medical fees has created a crisis in access to care for some catastrophic accident victims.
“Advancements in technology and medicine mean the range of care and treatments for crash survivors will also change over time,” Sen. Geiss said. “We must recognize this ever-evolving need, including revising what is or is not subject to a fee cap, so we do not leave vulnerable people out in the cold, with little to no recourse.”
The legislation is identical to House Bills 5498-5500, which has bipartisan support in the House.
“I’m pleased to have colleagues in the Senate who understand the significant need for action on these matters,” said Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo), who is helping champion the effort in the House. “Ensuring that the people we represent get the critical medical care they need is not a partisan issue — it is a human dignity issue. I look forward to continuing our work together so that we can advance this legislation and get relief measures in place for those who need it most.”