The board of the
But a Republican lawmaker said Whitmer is "playing politics" in a way that could put catastrophically injured auto accident victims at further risk.
Whitmer said the refunds should result from the bipartisan auto insurance package that she signed into law in 2019.
The MCCA, a nonprofit corporation with a board controlled by the insurance industry that manages a fund that pays for catastrophic care, should issue the refunds, Whitmer said.
The fund, which has assets of more than
Whitmer said in a Monday letter to Clinton that financial reports show the fund's surplus has still grown from
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"The surplus reflects premium overcharges and is partly a reflection of the cost-saving measures implemented in the historic, bipartisan no-fault reform legislation," Whitmer said in the letter.
The money "belongs to Michiganders and should be put in people's pockets immediately with a refund check," she said in a news release.
"A refund check to working families will help us continue to put Michiganders first and drive down costs."
Asked whether Whitmer was calling for the entire
Clinton said Monday it's true that the fund's current assets exceed its expected liabilities by
The state's insurance law requires the MCCA, beginning in
"I don't think there's any law that says we can't do it early," Clinton said.
Both Whitmer, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled Legislature have been under fire from advocates for catastrophically injured auto accident victims and related health care providers over sharp reductions in funded care since parts of the reform package took effect.
Fewer motorists are opting for unlimited catastrophic coverage and victims of catastrophic accidents — even those injured before the law took effect — are eligible for lower levels of insured care. Many groups and lawmakers are now calling for improved levels of care for those victims, though many had predicted such problems before the law, which included a sharply reduced fee schedule, was passed.
Whitmer is correct that motorists need a break on their premiums, but "taking money from the catastrophic claims fund — which was designed specifically to care for those with serious injuries — is a slap in the face to the survivors and families who have been begging for relief from the
The 2019 legislation was expected to provide
"The last time a governor played politics with the MCCA it threatened the funds that provided care for the catastrophically injured," Theis said.
She was referring to 1998, when the MCCA, at the urging of both then Gov.
Clinton said insurance companies are required to hold surplus funds to handle unexpected contingencies, and the same principle could be applied to the MCCA. If there are unfavorable court rulings, or if the law is changed to provide for greater payouts to catastrophic accident victims, the size of the surplus will be significantly reduced, he said.
"Moving up the timeframe for a refund, as the governor now proposes, makes it even more important to stay the course with the full reforms," McDonough said.
"Long-term care is the number one cost driver within the MCCA and is currently subject to the reasonable medical fee schedule. Changes to any part of reform will have a domino effect that will change the MCCA's long-term liabilities, increase premiums and drive up costs at a time when Michiganders can least afford it."
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