House committee begins hearings on auto insurance bills

The state Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — The Michigan House is wasting no time to consider Senate-approved changes to the state’s auto insurance law.

The Republican-led House Insurance Committee held a hearing Tuesday morning on the fast-moving legislation. The panel is likely to make changes to the bills.

Michigan is the only state that requires unlimited medical benefits for those severely injured in crashes. Car insurers complain that they have to pay more than health insurers do for medical care, resulting in higher premiums for motorists.

One concern that came out in the hearing was that the changes could lead to compromised care without guaranteed rate reductions.

Officials from two brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation centers in Michigan spoke out against the changes. John Gwynne Prosser II, the vice president of Health Partners, hopes to testify against the bill this week, as well. His organization has offices in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Supporters of the GOP-backed measures say the unlimited benefits would continue, just at a more efficient cost. The Insurance Institute of Michigan says the reform will lead to fairness for all.

The chair of the Insurance Committee told 24 Hour News 8 after the hearing that he would want the bill to clarify that it would cap only basic attendant care at $15 per hour for those who can’t get a reasonable rate and that specialty attendant care would not be capped.

“Nobody would lose any of the benefits that they’re currently receiving and nobody would lose benefits going forward. All we are trying to do is reel in costs,” Rep. Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt Township, said.

Another hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, with more to follow throughout the week before the bill would go for a vote. No vote is expected until later in the week at the earliest.

Auto insurance legislation has stalled previously over objections from health providers.

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