Skepticism welcomes $ 10 million to stem cuts in head injury care rates

June 28, 2021

By Jon King / [email protected]

A proposed financial patch that was passed by Michigan House last week to help fill the expected rate cut for rehabilitation facilities and home care providers under the state’s auto insurance law is viewed with suspicion by many people whose loved ones depend on such care, including a mother Howell.

On Thursday night, the House voted 95-13 to spend $ 10 million to help offset the financial losses that caregivers will face from the end of the week, when a 45% reduction in what Auto insurers may be billed for post-acute services for people catastrophically injured in accidents going into effect.

The Republican-led legislature and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have cut reimbursements as part of a 2019 law aimed at reducing drivers’ premiums by limiting medical costs and allowing them to forgo unlimited benefits.

State aid would be available on a first-come, first-served basis to suppliers who document a “systemic deficit” due to fee limits and a good faith effort to change their business practices to comply with the law. The relief fund would be administered by the Insurance and Financial Services Department, which would later give lawmakers an analysis of the impact of fee reductions and possibly make recommendations.

Some neurological rehabilitation centers have announced their closure due to the cuts and have asked residents to find alternative lifestyles. It has scared the loved ones and caregivers of those catastrophic in car crashes of what the future would mean if they lost the ability to provide the vital car in their homes. Among them is Howell’s Rebecca Bond, whose son Dillon suffered a serious brain injury after being hit by a car in 2013.

Dillon now requires 24-hour care from a registered nurse (RN) and a certified nursing assistant (CNA) who are paid for through the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association. The nonprofit was formed in 1978 by the Michigan legislature and required vehicle owners to purchase unlimited lifetime coverage for medical bills resulting from traffic accidents.

When the bipartisan reform program was enacted in 2019, coverage was no longer mandatory in an effort to lower Michigan’s highest insurance premiums. At the time of the reform, advocates insisted that people in need of long-term care would retain this access.

However, a new fee schedule due to go into effect on Friday will impose a 45% reduction in compensation for rehabilitation providers, the practical effect of which, according to Bond, will be the loss of those skilled professionals who help keep his son in good health. life. Bond tells WHMI that the plan to make $ 10 million available to these vendors is better than nothing and will only extend the timeframe for the crisis, not solve it. “I’m glad they’re at least discussing this atrocity, but it’s far from a solution. $ 10 million won’t last more than a few weeks for the 6,000 who require 24/7 care. I think by making this money available to providers on a first come, first served basis, they try to weed out the bad actors, but going about it this way will only hurt the survivors depending on that care.

Whitmer said she was open to a “narrow path” in addressing the concerns of suppliers and the people they serve. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican from Clarklake, was reluctant to consider changes until the fee cuts took effect on July 2. which is chaired by Brighton Township Republican Lana Theis.

For Rebecca Bond, however, the crux of the matter is a broken promise and what appears to be an unconstitutional takeover. “Why is the government intervening on a contract I have with my insurance company? How can the insurance company change the terms of the contract while the claim is open? “

At this point, Republican State Representative Bob Bezotte of Marion Township would seem to agree. Bezotte was one of 73 lawmakers, past and present, who signed a legal brief that questions the constitutionality of the proposed changes. It also co-sponsored a bill to delay the rate change.

The Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council, a trade group, said it appreciated the House’s recognition of the impending financial blow to specialist rehabilitation care, but said the relief would not be timely or significant enough.

“We appreciate the intentions of this lifeline – but unfortunately the rope is not long enough to bring everyone safely ashore,” President Tom Judd said in a statement.

The insurance industry has said the fee structure would reduce “dramatic overcharging” and is the main driver of a significant drop in per-vehicle charges for unlimited personal protection benefits. It will be $ 86 as of July 2, compared to $ 220 shortly after the law is signed.
Bond, however, is adamant that it is more than money. It’s about what’s right and what’s not, and in his opinion, treating people like his son Dillon in the way that is being proposed is just plain wrong.

“I was born and raised in Michigan, and I even loved saying I’m from Michigan so much that I moved here from Florida in 2008 after my husband was killed in a car crash to start over. life with my two youngest sons. I am no longer proud of it; I feel shame, disappointment and outrage towards our government officials and the lack of compassion for its most vulnerable. We have not had a good governor in the last three terms. It’s just as bad as the Flint Crisis, but it doesn’t get the same attention. ”

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