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Duggan Wants 30% Car Insurance Rate Cut; Meekhof Says That’s ‘Off The Table’
Detroit Mayor Mike DUGGAN has laid down his marker.
The only way he will plunk his political capital into the no-fault car insurance debate is to have the insurance industry promise that it will deliver a 30 percent across-the-board rate cut in return for changes to the system. Minus that, the word from the Mayor is there is no deal.
Lawmakers have been down this path before and the sticky point has been, if the insurers agree to that number, what happens in the out years? Will they boost the rates back up?
The Mayor has a solution for that. In his draft proposal, the companies would need permission of the state insurance commissioner if they want to raise rates higher than the rate of inflation.
The draft also includes a fee schedule for hospital services and on the delicate issue of unlimited catastrophic coverage, the Mayor proposes options for drivers that would lower that coverage and, therefore, the cost. For some lawmakers that has been a deal breaker in the past.
Among those is Senate Majority Leader Arlan MEEKHOF (R-West Olive), who told MIRS that any proposal that gets into the amount an industry must charge for its services is “off the table” because it’s too much of an intrusion into the free market.
Instead, Meekhof is encouraging the House to take advantage of a deal the insurers cut with the hospitals last year that would create a fraud authority, make reforms to the assigned claims system and put limits on attendant care (See “Hospitals Cut No-Fault Deal With Insurers,” 12/13/16).
Once these reforms are put in place, Michigan can judge the impact to Michigan’s high insurance rates. If more needs to be done, additional legislation can be taken up at that point, Meekhof suggested.
All this is coming to a head as you can expect to see the Mayor’s work product in bill form within the “next week or two,” according to a MIRS source.
While finalizing the language, Duggan continues to build his coalition that House Speaker Tom LEONARD (R-DeWitt) referred to recently. This includes labor, the NAACP and others, which he would like to use for “leverage” to push something through the House this fall. He’s also been in conversation with Gov. Rick SNYDER‘s office on this, as well.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” one Democratic source contends. But another wonders “why the rush? I’m not so confident that the people have bought into it.”
As for the language, “it is well cemented,” this source revealed, as it gives motorists cost saving options that will impact senior drivers in particular.
However, for some in the Detroit delegation, they want to see three items removed from the process that are currently used to set rates — ZIP codes, a driver’s education level and credit scores. All three have been an integral part of the industry’s cost setting formula for years.
One Democratic source said there needs to be a strong “educating” component to this so that the consumers know what they are buying and what they get in return.
And there is also an “X” factor in the impending debate. What happens to this package if the GOP Congress eventually wipes out the Affordable Care Act? It’s that kind of uncertainty that could complicate the Mayor’s effort to round up the needed 55 House votes, not to mention the fact that he will be going nose to nose with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks PATTERSON on this one. As one source put it, “that will be a big fight.”
MIRS asked the Insurance Alliance of Michigan (IAM) to respond to the Duggan rate reduction proposals and it sent a brief statement saying it was encouraged by the Mayor and others for making this issue a priority.
IAM did not respond directly to the 30 percent cut, instead noting the industry supports allowing the marketplace to work and “cost control measures are the best way to drive down costs for consumers.”
CPAN just released another report showing the inconsistencies and unfair premiums rates based on gender and marital status.
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