DETROIT (WXYZ) — It used to be that here in Michigan if you got in a catastrophic car accident you had auto no-fault coverage that provided care for the rest of your life.
In 2019 lawmakers passed legislation to lower insurance rates. One provision slashed reimbursement for care of the catastrophically injured by 45%. The cuts went into effect last year. Now the Michigan Court of Appeals is deciding, was that constitutional?
Attorneys for some patients say the state violated constitutional rights when it retroactively changed a contract.
“The defendant is trying to rewrite history,” said Mark Granzotto, Attorney For Accident Survivors.
Insurance companies say they did not have a contract. They had a policy set by state statute. Now the statute has changed.
“Ideally the best source of public policy is the legislature,” said Lori McAllister, Attorney for USAA Casualty Insurance.
“She used to have everything and then they changed this law and now she has nothing,” said Laura Vitale, the mom of an accident survivor.
Laura Vitale’s daughter Bri relies on a ventilator to breathe since a car crash when she was three. Without care, it could fail, killing her. After Auto No-Fault reform cut reimbursement rates for care by 45% across the board, almost all nurses quit.
Most days Laura cares for her daughter around the clock.
“When I sleep I am in the chair next to her bed. Every two hours she has to be suctioned. She needs to be turned and I get to sleep two hours at a time if that. I am not supposed to be sleeping but I have to sleep sometime,” said Laura.
Detroit Red Wings Legend Vladimir Konstantinov’s care team now is preparing for his life to be upended in a matter of weeks if the law doesn’t change.
“They are maintaining their care for him until July 1st and then after that, I don’t know. The options are so limited,” said Linda Krumm, Konstantinov’s Medical Case Manager.
His care company has lobbied for a law fix but says it is losing money providing care since the law changed and gave him a deadline. Dr. Owen Perlman, with Associates in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, says it is heartbreaking to see patients like Konstantinov lose care that is medically necessary.
“He can be quite impulsive at times and he needs 24-hour care,” said Dr. Perlman.