Whitmer Endorses Funding for Car Accident Care Providers, But Some Say “Mirage of Solution”
Governor Gretchen Whitmer last week approved legislation intended to deal with healthcare providers facing changes in the amount they are reimbursed when treating auto-related injuries, but groups representing these providers say the funding offered will not solve the problem.
Under Senate Bill 28, post-acute brain and spinal cord injury facilities and attendant care providers who experience structural losses as a result of the changes could get money from a $ 25 million fund. .
Payments would be made on a first-come, first-served basis, and providers would only be able to get the funds if they provided information on the charges for their services when dealing with both auto and non-auto injuries and could prove that they are facing a “systematic deficit” caused by changes to the state’s no-fault system.
Related: Money for health care providers hit by progress of automatic no-fault changes in Michigan legislature
In a signing letter, Whitmer said she hoped the funding would help keep providers in business and provide more information on the impact of recent changes to the state’s no-fault insurance system on the ‘industry.
“I remain committed to ensuring that the catastrophically injured Michiganders can access the care they need,” Whitmer wrote. “Going forward, I call on this legislature to continue working to ensure that our most vulnerable have access to the care to which they are entitled under their insurance policies.”
Groups representing caregivers criticized the measure. Tom Judd, president of the Michigan Brain Injury Provider, called it a âmirage of a solutionâ that does not solve the problem.
“The agenda set by this legislation floats support which in practice will not materialize for months, and once it does, will not close the funding gap that businesses face today,” Judd said, urging lawmakers to consider changing overall policy. .
Related: Accident victims and healthcare providers cry foul over impending change in auto injury medical costs
In 2019, the Republican-led legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer agreed to an overhaul of Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system, aimed at cutting the state’s highest costs, by signing bills. which were adopted with broad bipartisan support. .
Part of the change gave drivers the flexibility to choose their desired level of injury protection (PIP), which went into effect last summer – but another important part of the deal was to establish a fee schedule. for the amount that healthcare providers can charge. insurance companies when treating automobile related injuries.
This month, insurance companies’ reimbursement for health care services provided to survivors of road accidents not covered by Medicare was reduced by 45% from the fee schedule provided by the 2019 law. This change, according to many current post-acute care providers, will bankrupt them or force them to stop providing services to road accident patients. And road accident victims fear losing access to quality care.
Related: House bill would create fund for health care providers caring for road accident victims
Supporters of the current law say changing the fee structure is a big part of the equation when it comes to lowering auto insurance rates. The Insurance Alliance of Michigan estimates Michigan drivers have saved more than $ 1 billion thanks to the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association’s per-vehicle fee reductions, not to mention the individual savings drivers could have seen by choosing different tiers. PIP coverage.
Many Legislative Democrats and a handful of Republicans have indicated their support for the law change. House Bill 4486, sponsored by Rep. Doug Wozniak, of the Township of R-Shelby, and Senate Bill 314, sponsored by Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr., D-East Lansing, would cap reimbursements from affected suppliers to their 2019 rates.
Another bill, House Bill 4992, was introduced by Township Republican Commerce Ryan Berman and would implement a market average set annually by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services.
None of these proposals have yet been heard in the Legislative Assembly.
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