A state House panel in Lansing began the hearings on the proposed no-fault auto insurance changes today. The room was packed with wheelchair-bound people who had suffered injuries as a result of car accidents and they were there to request lawmakers to retain the no-fault laws in the state.
As per the proposed changes drivers would be allowed to choose lower rates by reducing the amount of coverage. George Sinas is the attorney with a coalition that consists of hospitals, doctors, trial lawyers who have opposed the changes. He states that he is particularly concerned over some particular change in Michigan’s PIP protection benefits.
He is concerned that the bill eliminates the full-time protection for the lifetime medical coverage. According to Sinas, no one will be able to purchase the cover anymore, regardless of whether you are rich; you need it, or whether you want it. This coverage is going to be unavailable.
This is because motorists could not purchase auto insurance, which would cover over $5 million dollars by way of medical bills.
However, there are supporters of this change who claim that the state’s no-fault model is really unsustainable due to the rising medical costs.
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce commissioned a research. Sharon Tennyson, who is the associate professor from Cornell University in Ithaca, was part of the research.
She feels that the simplest way to fix the problem was to put an upper limit on the benefits in the no-fault policy. Since, we can always argue about how much is enough, no one needs unlimited injury benefits, she added. This comment did not really go down too well with the no-fault supporters who were at the hearing.
Jim Howell, who is a former state lawmaker and Republican, got a chance to speak out against the changes. He shared his story with the lawmakers stating that his son would have been dead following an accident, if not for the no-fault auto insurance coverage. His son had sustained serious brain injury in the accident. He was really concerned over the fact that lawmakers were trying to use the technicalities in the proposal just to ensure that the voters are kept away from challenging the fresh law on the ballot.
He added that the $50,000 dollar appropriation was to implement the bill. However, that money will not be sufficient and if the money was required to implement the bill, they could run it via the appropriation process as they cannot be challenged by referendum.