August 16, 2018

Issues

Small Business Agenda:

 

Small businesses make up 98 percent of the businesses in Michigan and employ nearly 50 percent of all workers.

While the technical definition of a ‘small business’ means 500 employees or less, most of the small business owners I know have less than 30 employees. That means they don’t have the same ‘back-of-the-house’ resources — including human resources, accounting, legal and procurement — that big businesses have in-house.

Let’s make sure Michigan’s small businesses get their fair share of the state’s economic development efforts by taking the following steps:

  • Make small business a top priority in state government by establishing a cabinet-level small business advisor in the governor’s office.
  • Pursue the People’s Price Tag Legislation, which would expand Michigan’s fiscal notes to reflect the actual impact (i.e., cost) of legislation on businesses and individuals. It also would acknowledge and identify the mandated costs to local governments that the state is obligated to pay for.
  • Encourage and help small businesses get access to local, state and federal government contracts as well as bidding opportunities.
  • Emphasize economic ‘gardening’ (i.e., nurturing our existing small businesses to help them grow and flourish) without missing reasonable opportunities to encourage job attraction and retention.
  • Make health — including mental health — as affordable, accessible and convenient as possible for small businesses and their employees.
  • Close the talent gap, especially for small businesses that don’t have the internal resources to recruit and train employees. Even Michigan’s largest employers are struggling to find talent, and small business owners feel the crunch big-time. Let’s help reduce barriers like transportation and childcare (i.e., costs and access).
  • Encourage public-private partnerships to identify and address regional changes.
  • Don’t recreate the wheel: support the Michigan Marshall Plan for Talent.

    Auto No-Fault Insurance 

    I support a fair and common-sense approach to Auto No-Fault Insurance that provides those injured in catastrophic car accidents the best health care and treatment possible. There is a bipartisan 15-bill legislative package that could make a real change for us in Michigan — but it isn’t moving in the legislature. See these Op-Ed pieces below on why this matters so much to me:

    Opinion | The truth about no-fault and Mayor Duggan’s misguided lawsuit

    Tammy Hannah
    Bridge Magazine September 27th 2018
    No one wants to think about it. But the truth is, a catastrophic auto accident can happen to anyone.

    According to AAA, the average American spends more than 290 hours on the road every year. Meanwhile, the Michigan State Police reported 312,172 auto accidents in 2016, with 79,724 injuries.

    Here in Michigan, we have a very special way of protecting our families, drivers and taxpayers when accidents occur. It’s called the no-fault insurance system, and it’s a model for every other state in the country. There’s been a lot of misinformation about no-fault circulating lately, particularly coming from the insurance industry and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. I’d like to take this opportunity clear things up.

    Michigan’s no-fault insurance system means that anyone who gets into an accident will receive the care they need for as long as necessary, and for some, this means for the rest of their lives. Opponents claim that this means accident survivors get “unlimited” benefits, but that is false. The law simply requires that insurers pay for what is deemed to be “reasonably necessary.”

    Michigan’s no-fault system is the best in the country because it saves lives and taxpayer dollars. Unlike in other states, Michigan’s seriously injured accident survivors receive the care they need when they need it—without having to litigate, turn to government programs, or face bankruptcy as a result of the cost of their care.

    Most people don’t understand the invaluable nature of no-fault in Michigan until they are injured catastrophically in a car accident, or are faced with caring for a loved one who has been injured. Because of no-fault, Michigan patients often make exceptional progress compared to those from other states who are not given the same level of care. Without the medical coverage provided under no-fault, many of our patients would be facing major sacrifices in their independence, career goals, relationships, and lifestyle.

    My team and I do not like to imagine how the success of our treatments – 75 percent of patients return to their home community and 70 percent to their previous vocation – would change were they not supported under no-fault legislation.

    The recent lawsuit brought by Mayor Duggan, which attempts to declare no-fault unconstitutional, fails to recognize who is truly to blame for high premiums—the insurance companies and their unfair practices of setting rates based on gender, occupation, ZIP code and other factors that have nothing to do with your driving record. Instead, it vilifies providers as garnering wealth from this legislation. These claims could not be more unsubstantiated. The constellation of providers with whom I work every day are highly ethical and committed to selfless care for patients who need it in Michigan.

    There is a better way to lower rates without getting rid of Michigan’s model auto insurance system. The bipartisan Fair and Affordable package of bills—which is sitting in the Michigan Legislature where leadership has refused to put it to a vote—will address the real issues behind Michigan’s high insurance rates by banning the use of non-driving rating factors when setting insurance premiums and by holding insurance companies accountable. It will also make auto insurance rates more transparent, crack down on fraud committed by anyone in the system, and lower health care prices by enacting a fee schedule.

    Care providers give the same level of support regardless of gender, marital status, education level or any other characteristic. It’s time insurance companies enlisted the same equitable practice. I urge legislators in our state to consider this package of bills and the rights that all Michigan citizens should have: The right to care, to treatment, to improvement, and to not be bankrupted while pursuing the highest quality of life possible.

    Opinion | Judd: Bring equality to auto insurance

    Tom Judd
    Lansing State Journal September 27th 2018
    Much of the debate of Michigan’s auto no-fault system stems from the escalating concerns consumers have over the cost of auto insurance. These concerns are valid. But they’re being twisted with misinformation about the reasons for high premiums. In an effort to shift blame away from the insurance industry, a spotlight has been put on the cost of “unlimited” lifetime benefits for those catastrophically injured. Worst of all, some of the proposed solutions of reduced benefits are not only dangerous — they won’t guarantee rate reduction.

    Before exploring the issue of lifetime benefits, one thing is clear: there is no place for fraud within the auto no-fault system. Reducing fraud will only occur through a fair and balanced fraud authority representing all stakeholders within the no-fault system. Unfortunately, the only fraud authority that’s been proposed is one comprised entirely of representatives from the auto insurance industry.

    The term “unlimited lifetime” benefits gets used when proponents of benefit reduction describe our current system. This is simply not the case. By statute, Michigan citizens are entitled only to those services, products and accommodations established as reasonably necessary for the person’s care, recovery or rehabilitation. For those catastrophically injured, these benefits may well extend throughout the course of their life.

    But the insurance industry utilizes many mechanisms to limit the benefit through delay deny tactics. For example, a common practice is to place an entire claim in “investigation,” without providing any rationale or time frame for resolution. This puts the consumer in a difficult situation in determining if their bills will get paid — even for services that are reasonably necessary. Often times, the consumer will delay services (which can be detrimental to a speedy and full recovery) until the “investigation” is resolved. With no timetable communicated for the resolution, the victim and his or her family are left in rehabilitation limbo.

    In our current system, all citizens have the right to reasonably necessary services and care after an automobile accident. The proponents of benefit reduction argue that this is wrong! They support allowing insurance companies to offer reduced benefits (with no guarantee of a lasting premium reduction). From this angle, only those that can afford to pay for lifetime benefits are entitled to them.

    Michigan also deserves a system in which consumers’ insurance rates are not determined by their occupation, ZIP code, gender, marital status, education level, credit rating, or any other factor other than their driving record. Unfortunately, however, Michigan consumers face discrimination within the system.

    Michigan citizens are right — auto insurance is too expensive, period. But benefit reduction is not the answer. There is a better way to lower rates without getting rid of Michigan’s model auto insurance system. The bipartisan Fair and Affordable package of bills will address the real issues behind Michigan’s high insurance rates. How? By banning the use of non-driving rating factors when setting insurance premiums and by holding insurance companies accountable.

    This bill package would also make auto insurance rates more transparent, crack down on fraud committed by anyone in the system, and lower health care prices by enacting a fee schedule.

    I urge Michigan consumers to ask their insurance companies about the factors that go into setting rates. I urge Michigan citizens to ask their state legislators if they support the Fair and Affordable package of bills. Finally, I urge our public officials to stand up for equality within our auto insurance system and fight for what Michigan citizens deserve.

Paid for by Friends for Kelly Rossman-McKinney • PO Box 185, DeWitt, MI 48820