LANSING (Great Lakes News) – Thousands of Michigan citizens traveled to Lansing to protest Public Acts 21 and 22, which will allow Michiganders to opt out of lifetime personal injury protection for lower rates on their auto insurance. The rally launched the “Michigan Auto Insurance Promise” campaign to reverse the legislation and return Michigan to a no-fault system. Protesters gathered at the Lansing center for speeches and coffee before marching to the capitol for the rally proper, where they were addressed by recipients of unlimited lifetime coverage and Democratic state representatives who voted against the passage of the bill.
The “promise” in Michigan Auto Insurance Promise comes from the lack of a public comment period before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the bill enacting PA 21 and 22. Speakers at the Lansing Center and the Capitol presented a stark image of PA 21 and 22’s potential impacts.
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Brian Culver is financial adviser who was injured in a car accident at 21 that left him wheelchair bound and requiring a lifetime of care. He addressed protesters at the Lansing Center focusing on his own personal experience as a recipient of no-fault care.
“Every single survivor out there has given so much after they left the hospital,” Culver said. “Every survivor is an inspiration, and they inspire everyone around them. This is the only state in the United States that would give you a chance. We have a system that stands up for those who can’t stand for themselves.”
Later in the day, a computer support worker and no-fault beneficiary named Brian Woodward spoke on the role of no-fault insurance in keeping him employed despite his disability.
“I was able to go back to college and graduate with honors,” Woodward said. “I am now a home owning, community involved, and tax paying citizen.”
Speakers also focused on how quickly legislators passed the bill, demonizing Republican leaders and the governor.
“They are a bunch of chicken-s— cowards,” said Rep. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit), who has been a vocal critic of the law. “Speaker Chatfield is a chicken-S— coward. Speaker Chatfield, the Republicans, and anyone else: we’re going to come to your districts and we’re going to have these conversations.”
Robinson also urged for an amendment to one of the event’s slogans.
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“Fix the fix,” said Robinson. “There’s another word that starts with f. Eff the fix.”
Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield continues to stand his ground on the issue of no-fault reform despite this new round of criticism.
“The scare tactics that these people are putting out on the radio or in the newspapers are the same scare tactics that lead us to having no reform for 30 years,” Chatfield said. “Those same scare tactics lead us to having the highest cost of car insurance in the entire country.”
Chatfield argues that critics fail to understand the importance of providing Michiganders with a choice of what coverage works for them.
“Our former auto no-fault law was a big miss,” Chatfield said. “Roughly 1 in 3 drivers could not afford car insurance in the state of Michigan, and they were forced to either become criminals by not having car insurance or take the risk of not having enough money to put food on the table. It’s a false narrative to say that giving people a choice in their level of coverage is unfair. We need people in this state to have a choice of what coverage they think is best for their family.”
“I stand by it,” said Chatfield. “And I think every family in the state of Michigan will stand by it next July when they see their rates reduced.”
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce also voiced their concern with efforts to reverse the law.
“The bipartisan legislation passed earlier this year recognizes that in order for Michigan to be competitive with other states, Michigan needs to drive down its highest-in-the-nation car insurance rates,” said Wendy Block, the Chamber’s Vice President of Business Advocacy. “It addresses the lack of medical cost controls in our current system by instituting a medical fee schedule and, for the first time, gives drivers choice in deciding what level of medical coverage is appropriate for them and fits into their family’s budget.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who signed the bill in June, ordered the Director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Anita G. Fox to issue a Director’s Order postponing the $250,000 cap on personal injury protection established by the legislation until July the night before the rally.
Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) organized the rally, and is an organization founded in 2003 by a group of professional associations who believed no-fault insurance provided the best coverage for Michiganders. CPAN’s board of directors is primarily filled by private medical providers that service those requiring lifetime care. The organization promoted the rally as a way to galvanize the average Michigander to advocate for protections to no-fault.
“Volunteers are the most powerful force on earth,” said John G. Prosser, CPAN Board of Directors member and owner of Health Partners which provides home hospital suites to patients suffering neurotrauma. “You are the angels standing guard. Tell your legislators that this cannot stand.”
PA 21 and 22 will go into full effect on July 1, 2020 if the legislation is not reversed.