Laws, like taxes, are the price we pay to live in a civilized society, but both should be equitable and fair to every citizen.
That's why I want to know where did the compassion, the empathy, the heart of our state legislators go when they changed the no-fault automobile insurance law on
Catastrophically-injured car crash victims and their families are concerned about the changes to the law because it will affect the level of care patients now receive. It's all a result of the shameful effort of legislators to win votes by reducing insurance premium rates for the rest of us, while coldly throwing back out onto the street those who need help the most.
The problem is serious. But it's not getting the attention it should because the number of permanently injured people and their families – now in catastrophic financial straits – are small in comparison to the number of drivers who were paying high prices for auto insurance. They were the ones demanding action by state legislators.
Last weekend's Reminder published the story of
In-home care providers, like Henney-Planck, had their reimbursement rates cut from 100 percent to 55 percent under the change in the law. It now allows only 56 hours per week of in-home care if provided by a relative, friend, business associate or anyone living in the same household as the injured party. The prior law allowed for the coverage of 24/7 provided by a commercial agency. It's now nearly impossible to continue the mandatory special care needed by totally dependent victims of auto accidents.
Another change in the law determines how health care providers charge for their services. Medical charges now have to adhere to the new Medicare-based fee schedule, a percentage of what is payable under Medicare. The change affects doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other medical providers in an effort to curtail the practice of inflating bills for private health insurance holders. Hospitals also are prevented from charging far more for the same services because a private insurance company is footing the bill.
They said these changes were necessary to get the high cost of the previous system under control. But our legislators totally left the freeway when it came to actually finding a way to cut all the greed and graft that was built into the system.
Lawmakers dramatically dropped insurance premiums for all drivers, but they failed to guarantee the care and comfort for those who have been so unfortunately victimized by catastrophic accidents.
So what drove up the cost of no-fault insurance in
The biggest program, admirable as it was at the start, was the Legislature's creation in 1978 of the
We, as citizens of the only state in the country to have such a program, should be proud of the commitment we made to forever protect the least fortunate among us. The problem was that legislators didn't provide oversight of the MCCA in an effort to control costs, rather than just monitoring the amount drivers were being charged for auto insurance.
And there's still neglect in the new changes to the bill that went into effect in 2020. One big oversight lies at the heart of the cold clear dismissal of the most helpless and needy among us.
Now, in their exuberance to win votes from their constituents and to offer lower rates, lawmakers have allowed drivers to choose their level of PIP protection: No coverage and maximum limits of
Letting the general public choose an option of coverage is dangerous and threatens the financial stability of the injured and their family – unless they choose unlimited coverage.
So these legislators, who have been entrusted with the lives of their citizens, are allowing us to gamble with our future health. They have capitulated to the insurance companies – no doubt, valued campaign funders – who now step to the payout window proudly claiming to have lowered premiums for frustrated drivers. But that deal comes with a lifetime guarantee that they'll pay out less in benefits and settlements.
I think it's time that our elected leaders go back to the drawing board and review how the plan works, determine who oversees the benefits and the payments made, and how the medical and insurance companies benefit from this convoluted system that protects big corporations from losses.
It's also time for citizens to get educated, get organized, and express their opinions, their outrage, and their ideas.
Our elected leaders failed to fix a system that should be efficient, cheaper – and still caring.
Could there be anything else as critical that our elected leaders are failing to fix? We could likely make a list, but I won't take the time. Right now, this serious issue needs their immediate attention.