Inside and outside of Oakland

Michigan no-fault auto insurance debate heats up

  The debate over no-fault auto insurance reform in Michigan heats up Sunday when author of reform legislation and one of its chief critics square off.
  State Rep. Pete Lund and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson debate no-fault auto insurance at 9:30 a.m. on FOX 2 Detroit's "Let It Rip" show moderated by Charlie Langton.



  Lund, a Republican from Macomb County's Shelby Township, introduced legislation Tuesday, with the support of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, to cap medical payments for catastrophic injuries at $1 million and to replace the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association with a newly formed governing corporation with a board appointed by the governor.
  Patterson, still recovering from injuries from an auto crash last August, has been an early and vocal critic of capping medical payments under the no-fault system put in place in the 1970s.
  He's made a 30-second advertisement opposing the legislation put together by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. In a point he's likely to repeat Sunday, Patterson said Friday that the proposed reforms are anything but.
  "If it's got the name 'reform' in front of it, it's got to be good. It's like motherhood, apple pie and reform," Patterson said. "But here they're campaigning for reform on something they themselves created. It's not like the fund came out of nowhere.
  "The legislature created it and now they want to reform?" Patterson said. "It's inconsistent."
  The hospital association has also put together videos posted on YouTube of accident victims talking about the importance of the catastrophic injury fund to their own recoveries.
The association says the proposal "would permanently trade significant healthcare coverage for catastrophically injured auto accident victims for a one-time $125 premium rebate for policyholders."
  "Attempts at cost shifting by auto insurance companies to the Medicaid system and taxpayers is a tired approach, rejected in the Legislature last year and overwhelmingly by voters in 1992 and 1994," said MHA President Spencer Johnson in a statement. "Proposals must break with that tradition to offer value — and not simply bigger bottom lines for insurers."
  The governor has his own arguments for supporting changes on his website at www.michigan.gov/snyder.
  Snyder, Lund and state Sen. Joe Hune, a Livingston County Republican, pitched the plan prior to the introduction of legislation by Lund.
  They argue that Michigan is the only state to require unlimited lifetime medical benefits, and that a lack of cost controls has led to an average auto insurance premium $261 higher than any neighboring state.
  They also say that the average insurance medical claim has increased 230 percent in the last 12 years and is now twice as much as the next closest state, and that medical providers often charge auto insurers more for covered services than to do health insurers.
  "Michiganders have seen their auto insurance rates rise faster than any other state in the country," Snyder says on his webpage addressing no-fault auto insurance.
  "It has been 40 years since the no-fault system has been implemented and it's long overdue for review," Snyder said. "These changes will create a policy that continues to cover accident victims far better than any other state and will create cost controls that stem the tide of rising insurance premiums while also providing immediate relief for families."

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