ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — For David Martin, who’s paralyzed from the chest down, the long and difficult journey started 15 years ago at an intersection just blocks from his home.
“Eighteen-year-old ran a stop sign, changed my life forever,” Martin said as he worked through a therapy session at Life Beyond Barriers in Rockford. “My brain works fine, but my hands, not so much. My legs, not much at all.”
The sessions provide more that muscle stimulation and coordination. They help Martin live a productive life despite his injuries.
“It’s the drive to keep going, to move forward,” Martin said.
Care providers for people suffering catastrophic spinal and brain injuries say they may not be in business for long if a part of no-fault insurance reform goes into effect.
Part of the no-fault reform package calls for a new fee schedule that cuts fees to providers by 45%. Some providers say those cuts will put them out of business.
But legislators in favor of the cuts — part of sweeping changes to the state’s no-fault auto insurance law signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2019 — say providers aren’t telling the whole story.
In a news release, Allegan County Republican state Rep. Mary Whiteford called claims by providers that clients will lose their benefits “half-truths and outright lies.”
A spokesperson for the Republican-controlled House suggests some providers were charging more than the going rate for services.
“It was well-established during the reform process that providers were charging auto insurance companies more than they charge other forms of insurance — in many cases, three to five times more. The fee schedule is designed to require more reasonable charges,” Michigan House of Representatives Communications Advisor Rachel Doane said.
But Dr. Randall Bruce, who says he’s closing his Detroit-area rehab center because of the cuts, says that’s not true for all providers.
Bruce is part of a Facebook group called We Can’t Wait, which consists of rehab clients, their families and providers concerned with the cuts.
“A company like mine, we typically made about a 10% profit margin. On a good year, maybe somewhere between 10 and 15 percent. We can’t afford a 45% fee cut. Most others cannot,” Bruce said.
We Can’t Wait says the loss of providers leaves more than 2,000 car crash survivors like Martin caught in the middle.
“I want to be able to be out in the community, doing things, being productive and having fun with my friends and family,” Martin said. “And I can’t do that if I’m sitting in a nursing home.”
But with the July 1 deadline looming, neither has yet to come out of committee.