LANSING, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Spotlighting the anti-business and anti-patient provisions of Michigan’s new auto insurance law, the guardians of two catastrophically injured auto accident victims — along with the nationally renowned brain injury rehabilitation clinic Eisenhower Center — today filed a lawsuit seeking to declare key elements of Michigan’s new auto insurance law unconstitutional.
The lawsuit addresses two provisions of the new law — the significant limitations placed on the right of survivors to receive reimbursement for in-home attendant care services provided by family members, and the fee schedule that dramatically and arbitrarily reduces the amount medical providers can be reimbursed by auto insurance companies for necessary care. The 18-count lawsuit was filed in the Ingham County Circuit Court, naming Citizens Insurance Company of America and USAA Casualty Insurance Company as the defendants. The victims, on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed, are Ellen Andary of East Lansing and Philip Krueger of Ann Arbor.
“Welcome to big government turning into Big Brother. This new law essentially means government can step in and determine who can come into my home and provide my disabled wife her needed around-the-clock care,” said Dr. Michael Andary, who is the guardian for his wife, Ellen, who was legally incapacitated following a catastrophic auto accident caused by a drunk driver in December 2014. “Catastrophically injured auto accident survivors, who have already been stripped of so much, will now be stripped of their right to privacy, as well. We’re filing this lawsuit to protect the dignity and the rights of survivors like Ellen and my other patients.”
Andary, who is a widely respected physician specializing in the treatment of brain injury patients, said the attendant care limitations in the new auto insurance law would force him to allow strangers into his home to provide 24-hour-a-day care for his wife, violating their privacy and breaching the contract they entered into with their auto insurance company. Under Michigan’s old auto no-fault law, family members could provide 24-hour per day care.
Public Acts 21 and 22 (the technical name for the new auto insurance law) was rammed through by the Michigan Legislature in May without any public hearings and without any input from auto accident survivors, families, guardians, medical providers, or legal experts. It eliminated key protections, such as guaranteed lifetime medical care for auto accident victims.
“In-home attendant care decisions are among the most important, and intimate, that anyone can make,” said attorney George T. Sinas, who is representing the plaintiffs bringing this action and who is general counsel for the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN). “Survivors don’t want — and certainly should not have to tolerate — big government determining who can come into their home to provide care.”
“The Michigan Legislature’s passing of this new, rushed law, is a stain on the legal and moral conscience of this great state,” Sinas said. “This lawsuit seeks to throw out certain provisions of this new law that violate the due process, equal protection, and impairment of contract provisions of the Michigan Constitution.”
John Cornack, president of CPAN and CEO of Eisenhower Center, said the new law’s fee schedule is a classic case of government choosing winners and losers. The fee schedules only allow providers to charge insurance companies 55% of what they were charging before the law passed, effectively putting them out of business.
“The new law is anti-business and essentially amounts to price fixing, which will force honest, hard-working providers out of business,” Cornack said. “That will have a devastating impact, not only on providers and local economies, but on access to necessary medical care as well. As rehabilitation clinics are forced out of business, catastrophically injured survivors will have nowhere to go but into nursing homes, where they won’t receive all the necessary care they need to thrive and lead fulfilling lives.”
Cornack noted that just last week, on September 25, thousands of people from across the state marched through Lansing to the state Capitol to protest these devastating changes and called on legislators to amend the law to protect the right to recover. “The more people learn about this new law, the less they like it,” Cornack said. “Even the insurance industry has already backed off claims that this new law will guarantee lower premiums for consumers. The insurance companies are not lowering premiums 45% like they are cutting payments.”
Steve Pontoni, vice president of CPAN board of directors and executive director of the Michigan Association for Justice, noted that momentum continues to grow to find solutions. “CPAN is strongly supportive of the plaintiffs in this case, and CPAN will fight these unconstitutional injustices on all fronts. We will fight it in the Legislature, we will fight it in the courts — and we will take it directly to the people.”