26 February 2013

Patterson under fire for arguing against MI no-fault insurance change

Story first appeared on The Detroit Free Press -

The state has fired back at Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who made a very public plea this week to tread carefully before making big changes to the state’s no-fault insurance law.

Gov. Rick Snyder has made no-fault reform one of his top priorities for the year, saying that Michigan has the 10th highest auto insurance costs in the nation. And Kevin Clinton, Commissioner of the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation replied to Patterson’s open letter with one of his own.

“I was very disappointed to read Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s recent statement regarding the Governor’s proposal,” the letter said. “In spite of his assertion, there is no effort to ‘dismantle’ no fault. To the contrary, our effort is to save no fault for the long-term.”

Patterson, who suffered critical injuries in a two-car crash on Aug. 10 that also paralyzed his driver, James Cram, said drastic changes to no-fault and the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association would hurt Michigan’s economy and hospitals, shift health care costs to Medicaid and harm critically injured car crash victims.

The MCCA reimburses insurers for costs of more than $500,000 for the care and treatment of those seriously injured in automobile accidents.

Patterson said an independent financial analysis of the law and consequences of changing it should be done before any changes are made.

But Clinton said in his letter that Michigan’s economy is suffering because of skyrocketing insurance rates.

“How long can we ask our citizens who buy state-mandated coverage to foot the bill,” he said.

The insurance industry also noted this week that Patterson should wait to complain about no-fault reform until a bill is actually introduced.

Reform was discussed last year, but never received a vote in the full state House or Senate. Legislators have said they plan to reintroduce a bill this year.

“We believe that L. Brooks Patterson has been an outstanding public official and a visionary county executive, but his vision on this issue is a little cloudy,” the Michigan Insurance Coalition, a trade association of insurance companies in the state, said in a press release today. “Michigan’s No-Fault system is a runaway train that needs reform now before it plunges off the fiscal cliff forever.”

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