State lawmakers tackle auto insurance reform

A file photo of Michigan's Capitol Building in Lansing.

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A measure to reform Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance has been making its way through the state legislature.

Similar efforts have been tried before, but have so far failed to pass both chambers.

“This is my third term on the House Insurance Committee and the third time I’ve seen this issue come before us,” Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, said.

Some say the new legislation — which has already been approved by the state Senate — is moving briskly, while others say it has slowed down in the House.

The arguments that have long surrounded the controversial no-fault auto insurance law generally break down like this: Michigan has the most expensive auto insurance in the country — or Michigan has the best coverage for catastrophic injuries in the country.

Rep. Lyons said the latest plan would cap cost, reduce fraud and lead to “a two-year, $100-per-vehicle cut of insurance premiums for Michigan motorists.”

But state Sen. Peter MacGregor said the current legislation does not include any language about savings on premiums.

“It’s not in the bill right now. It’s in a proposal. So what’s on the table right now doesn’t have any of that information on there,” the Rockford Republican said.

MacGregor said he worries about the government capping costs and limiting the nation’s most generous catastrophic program. Posthumus Lyons thinks that since the government mandates the coverage, it should have some say in the cost.

MacGregor says he would like to see reform, but he’s skeptical of this package. He said it moved too fast in the Senate to get the changes that would suit him.

“I just didn’t have enough time when it smoked through the… Senate earlier last month,” MacGregor said.

Posthumus Lyons said the bill is expected to have a more relaxed pace in the House.

“In the House, we’re going to take our time so that we’re making sure every member is educated on the issue, the background,” she said. “I’m also doing some diligence and reaching out to some of our health care providers locally, trying to bring them to the table and see if there are area’s where we can agree on.”

The issue has some injury advocacy groups and health care providers pitted against the insurance interest. As Posthumus Lyons said, navigating that will take a while.

In the meantime, look for the Senate to take up another controversial measure as soon as Wednesday as they consider getting rid of the prevailing wage. If they do, you can expect a partisan fight in both chambers on a bill that faces an uncertain future with Gov. Rick Snyder.

UPDATE: The Senate bill as passed did not include any language about savings on premiums, but the language has been added to the House version. 

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