'Vlady will not survive.' Konstantinov's care team advocates for Michigan no-fault law change

Posted at 12:48 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 18:22:48-04

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Former Detroit Red Wings hockey player Vladimir Konstantinov and his team of attorneys are fighting against a change recently made to the state's no-fault insurance laws.

The team says the state cut no-fault insurance payments by 45%. A pay cut that affects not only Vladimir Konstantinov, but about 18,000 other Michiganders.

Vladimir Konstantinov was injured in a limo crash in 1997, just six days after helping the Red Wings win their first Stanley Cup in 42 years.

Related: Red Wings legend Vladimir Konstantinov may lose life-sustaining care

The auto no-fault insurance helps support Konstantinov and other Michiganders living with catastrophic car crash injuries.

“Vlady will not survive,” Jim Bellanca told lawmakers.

Bellanca is Konstantinov’s friend and attorney. He allowed 7 Action News to exclusively record his meetings with a cell phone while sitting at the table where they met with lawmakers.

They say they believe there are enough votes to pass legislation, but there are key leaders who are blocking it at this point.

State Rep. Jeff Yaroch, a Republican from Macomb County, says he would like to see rates reconsidered and supports House Bill 4486 and House Bill 5698.

(Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said State Representative Yaroch believed companies could afford the cut. Yaroch says he was misunderstood as he discussed how he believed the bill he voted for would allow care to continue. He clarified he believes the bill as-is is not sustainable in the long-run.)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers disagree and say the 45% cut is hurting the injured. State Sen. Doug Wozniak introduced a bill that would set up a fee schedule.

House Democratic Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi asked Konstantinov to sign his bill repealing the law completely.

“Cutting all of our providers 45% will cause people to close their doors,” Rabhi said.

Rabhi says if it is logical to impose a 45% cut on attendant care, it is logical to impose a 45% cut on auto insurance companies.

According to NYU Stern School of Business analysis, nationally, the health care support services sector has net margins of 2.42%. The sector includes home health care.

To put that in perspective, the insurance industry has net margins of 12.64%.

Crash victims have asked what is motivating lawmakers that are blocking this change. Some have pointed out that the Insurance Alliance of Michigan and insurance companies have made big donations to key lawmakers.

“We didn’t hear from an organized voice just for home health care and it is a tough lesson to learn, but I learned early. I’m a business owner—if you don’t show up at the table, you’re on the menu,” State Rep. Daire Rendon said.

Rendon, a Republican from Northern Michigan, is chair of the Insurance Committee. She is one of several lawmakers who has received thousands from insurers.

“A lot of good things have transpired. And the Michigan auto owners are getting a rebate this year,” Rendon said.

Many victims dealing with these cuts say it looks like some lawmakers are being bought and paid for by the insurance industry.

“More than 7 million Michigan insured drivers are saving under the reforms, and we are excited about staying the course and seeing this relief,” said Erin McDonough, executive director of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan.

The Insurance Alliance of Michigan says we are no longer the most expensive state in the nation.

The Zebra’s State of Insurance study found Michigan is now the second most expensive.

For now, Republican House Speaker Jason Wentworth says he is interested in moving on, and not interested in changing the law.

Konstantinov’s team has a message:

“Vlady is one of 17 or 18 thousand people. He has the prominence, but they all have the problem,” Bellanca said.