Thursday, October 6, 2011

Special Guest Blogger: Rep Barb Byrum Discussing Proposed Auto No-Fault Changes in the State House

This week, I have invited another guest blogger to share information with you. State Representative Barb Byrum is in her third term in the Michigan House. She serves south Lansing, Delhi Township, and much of the rural area of Ingham County. She is a tremendous advocate for us in Ingham County, and is a good friend. I invited her to discuss whatever she wants, and she has chosen to focus on one of the biggest recent issues being considered in the State Legislature. Thanks to Rep. Byrum for contributing this to the the Schor Blog readers!

The following is an editorial written by State Representative Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga), Chair of the House Committee on Insurance. If you have questions about this commentary, please contact Byrum's office by calling (517) 373-0587.

The Michigan House Committee on Insurance has begun to hear testimony on House Bill 4936, which would drastically change Michigan's nearly 40 year-old Auto No-Fault statute and will result in significant limitations on the medical expense coverages and legal rights of auto accident victims in Michigan. This legislation eliminates the current lifetime Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage for reasonably necessary products, services, and accommodations. No one will have the option to buy this coverage any longer. Rather, coverage for such expenses will only be available in incremental coverage levels. This would put Michigan consumers at the risk of exhausting their life-time limit of health care, forcing them to either sue, flooding our court systems, or turn to Medicaid, increasing taxpayer expense.

Auto insurers claim that consumers will be given more choices, resulting in lower premiums. But those against the reform, as I am, know this effort will do little to decrease insurance rates and there is no guarantee that rates will go down; only a guarantee that coverage will decrease. Persons who suffer catastrophic injury and who did not buy enough PIP coverage to cover the expense, will, in many cases, not receive the medical care, treatment, and rehabilitation they require in order to attain the highest level of recovery. The loss of no-fault auto insurance funding for these expenses will mean a massive cost shift to Medicaid and Medicare, thus increasing the State and Federal tax burden for Michigan citizens.

Not only does this legislation hurt Michigan taxpayers, it will likely cost our state jobs as well. As reported in a recent study released by the Anderson Economic Group, the proposed policy change could result in thousands of lost jobs (predominately in the medical fields) and millions in lost earnings, leaving approximately 700 people a year with severe injuries without the funds for proper treatment. This puts thousands of Michigan drivers and jobs at risk! When you stop and do the math, the proposed legislation is bad for taxpayers, bad for drivers and bad for Michigan!

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