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Hundreds of catastrophic crash survivors protest cuts in care in Lansing

Posted at 7:11 AM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 07:11:02-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Insurance companies say auto no-fault reform saved you money. People living with catastrophic injuries say it left them without the care they need to live a full life.

Now, we are getting a real-time look at the impact of Michigan’s auto no-fault reform. Those who say it has left them struggling to survive rallied in Lansing Wednesday begging lawmakers for a fix.

As lawmakers walked out of chambers, some of them engaged with protesters. Others avoided eye contact with the catastrophically injured and their families.

They are survivors of catastrophic car crashes who traveled from around the state to protest how auto no-fault reform cut the reimbursement rate paid to their medical providers and caregivers by 45% across the board. They say they are trying to be seen, and how some lawmakers responded made it clear it is a struggle.

“It’s very sad to see that you cannot be looked in the eye,” said Kelly Lockhart, a caregiver at the protest with her patient.

Lockhart’s care helps Steve Jedda, who suffered a catastrophic injury 10 years ago and breathes with a ventilator, live a full life in Whitmore Lake. She and Jedda's brother came to Lansing to make his voice heard.

“I require 24-hour care,” Jedda said.

Michigan’s no-fault auto reform passed the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed it into law on Mackinaw Island in 2019, saying it would save drivers money on insurance.

“It’s from the backs of people like my brother. It is unconscionable. They did it in the middle of the night on Mackinac Island," Matt Jedda said.

The Insurance Alliance of Michigan released information on the benefits of the cuts on Wednesday. It says more drivers bought insurance because it is more affordable and the insured will get a $400 per vehicle Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association fund rebate due to savings.

The Brain Injury Association of Michigan counters saying more than 3,000 people who provided care lost their jobs and 21 businesses have already closed down due to the law change. Most of the hundreds of companies surveyed said they will have to stop serving auto crash survivors in the future because they are losing money.

“I’ve lost caregivers and it is very hard to find new ones,” Justin Sabbaugh, a catastrophic crash survivor from Novi, said.

“There needs to be a change. There has to be something done,” Todd Hammons, catastrophic crash survivor from Romulus, said.