Another Catastrophically Injured Michigander Is Displaced From Her Home Due to Lack of Care After Auto No-Fault Reform
On Sunday morning, Kelley Miller, a mother and grandmother who was left paralyzed from the neck down after a serious car crash, had to be taken away from her family and home after her nursing agency stopped services due to auto reform. Kelley needs 24/7 care from a nurse and a nursing assistant, as she is dependent on a ventilator to breathe. She would die in minutes if her ventilator didn’t work. When the homecare agency had to stop services, there would be no one able to fix the ventilator tubing as it kinks throughout the day.
Tracy Samilton from Michigan Radio / NPR reports:
Miller needs 24/7 care to survive. She is a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down.
The nurse who has been with her the longest, Shara Curry, is also the co-owner of RN Plus Staffing, the agency that provided her care. Tears suddenly welled up in her eyes as she called the 911 operator and explained why Miller needs an ambulance to take her to Sparrow Hospital.
Curry has been caring for Miller for ten years, ever since the car accident that nearly claimed her client’s life. Miller isn’t just a client, she’s a friend.
Miller’s insurance company, Auto – Owners, has cut reimbursements to Curry’s agency by nearly half. Michigan’s new no fault law says it can do that. Many insurance companies across the state are doing the same thing to other survivors’ agencies. Like them, Curry can no longer afford to pay her staff, let alone herself. And there’s no place to send her client except the hospital.
Miller lay quietly on the bed as another nurse from the agency put her makeup on for her. For ten years, Miller has lived in this rural home north of Lansing with her husband — played word games and board games with her grandchildren — bossed her family around. She filled the house with knick-knacks from garage sales and flea markets. Outside, she has chickens, some cows. It was a good life, she said.
“My granddaughter’s birthday party was today at Skateland,” she said, and then began to cry. “It’s something I looked forward to. But … I won’t be there.”
It’s likely Miller will never come home from the hospital. Other agencies are running out of money and closing, too. If Miller can’t return to her home, the hospital will need to find a nursing facility that will agree to take her. Many are severely understaffed.
“I can’t even imagine what it would be like, there’s no quality of life, you’re just done,” Miller said of the possibility of living in an institution. “I would be (done) anyway. I wouldn’t want to live anymore.”
Tracy Samilton reports that Kelley’s insurance company, Auto Owners, stated in an email that “the company continued paying Kelley Miller’s coverage at old rates for months so Miller could find another home care agency to take care of her. But the Millers could not find one with so many agencies shutting down.”
Meanwhile, Michael Martin from Fox 17 West Michigan reports: “Around 7:05 a.m. Sunday, Curry called 9-1-1 to have an ambulance come pick Miller up. ‘She has a good life here with our caregivers, with her husband, with her family. She does not deserve to go to the hospital, or to be placed in a facility,’ Curry told FOX 17 as they waited for Miller to be loaded into the ambulance. ‘I’m so angry at the system that failed her.'”
“My granddaughter’s birthday party is today at Skateland, and something I’ve looked forward to… but I won’t be there,” Miller said Sunday with tears heavy in her eyes.
“I’m going into a hospital… I don’t know what’s gonna happen with my life.”
Instead of celebrating her granddaughter’s birthday, she was put onto a stretcher and loaded into the back of an ambulance in the frigid morning cold.
“My husband and I keep talking about like, how did we get here, how did this happen?”
George Sinas, general legal counsel for CPAN, a group focused on preserving Michigan’s no fault system, said in response to Miller’s situation, “The responsibility for all of this lies squarely at the feet of the Republican leadership of the House and Senate, Governor Whitmer, and the Department of Insurance and Financial Services.
Michigan’s legislators had plenty of warnings about Kelley’s impeding transfer to a hospital if they did not fix the auto reform that took away her care. Recently, the Silent Crash Podcast aired a special episode to warn of what was about to happen, and this was widely shared with legislators. Tracy Samilton, Chad Livengood and other reporters have also previously reported Kelley’s story specifically:
- For quadriplegic car crash survivors, July 1 could be start of second tragedy (Michigan Radio / NPR)
- Some insurance companies have stopped paying healthcare providers for auto accident survivors (Michigan Radio / NPR)
- Home care agencies in Michigan lobby to scrap 55% cap on care for car accident patients (Modern Healthcare / Crain’s Detroit)
Kelley’s story is not the first, and it will not be the last unless legislators take a moral stand and fix Michigan’s humanitarian crisis now.