Controversial Auto No-Fault Reform, e-Cigarette/Vaping, and Pregnancy Termination Bills Moving Through Legislature

Due to the focus on budgeting and road funding, the state legislative and policy making process has been moving at a relatively slower pace at this point in the legislative cycle compared to other years. Over the past several weeks, however, the Michigan House and Senate have taken swift action to pass several bills of interest to family physicians.

Auto No-Fault Reform

Each chamber recently passed its own version of auto no-fault reform legislation. While the House and Senate bills differ slightly, both call for establishing tiers of coverage for personal injury protection (PIP). The House package would also mandate rate reductions over five years and only for PIP.

  • Unlimited PIP protection (current requirement) - 10% rate reduction
  • $500,000 PIP – 30% rate reduction
  • $250,000 PIP – 60% rate reduction
  • $50,000 PIP – 80% rate reduction
  • No PIP coverage – 100% rate reduction

Most Democrats, including Governor Whitmer, do not feel the bills’ mandates go far enough, as rate reductions would only be required for PIP coverage. She has vowed to veto any no-fault legislation that does not protect citizens or fails to provide substantial rate relief. Opponents of the bills also say they gut Michigan’s current no-fault system while providing no guarantees for cost savings, and they don't prohibit the use of non-driving measures—such as zip code, credit score, or education level—for setting insurance rates. The latter has been a point that Democrats and others have been pushing for.

“The ball is still in the legislature’s court,” Governor Whitmer said. “They can either negotiate in good faith and send me a bill that actually protects consumers while we also continue to negotiate a budget that fixes the damn roads, or they can send one of the current bills to me ... and we can start all over again."

e-Cigarette / Vaping Regulation

Both the House and Senate have introduced and moved legislation aimed at prohibiting the sale and use of e-cigarettes and vaping products targeted to individuals under 18 years of age. This week, the House passed a bill package (Senate Bills 106 and 155) that creates a separate category for these products and devices, ultimately exempting them from current regulations and laws governing tobacco products and smoking. The bills are now headed to Governor Whitmer for her consideration. MAFP continues to work with other stakeholders toward passage of more comprehensive legislation that would require e-cigarettes and vaping products/devices to be subject to Michigan’s smoke-free air laws and smoke-free zoning regulations.

Pregnancy Termination Restrictions

This month, the House and Senate passed legislation to prohibit dilation and evacuation (D & E) procedures. Senate Bills 229 and 230 and House Bills 4320 and 4321, which passed by party line votes in their respective chamber, establish a punishment of up to two years in prison and as much as $50,000 in fines for individuals who perform D & E.

As legislation aimed at restricting pregnancy termination is considered by the Michigan legislature, Governor Whitmer stated she will veto any bills that limit access to healthcare.

Meanwhile, on May 15, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into a law a controversial measure that could punish physicians who perform abortions with life in prison. The Alabama Human Life Protection Act, approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Alabama legislature, was passed with the goal of challenging Roe v. Wade. AAFP, in collaboration with American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, and American Psychiatric Association, swiftly issued a response statement this week, calling on politicians to end political interference in the delivery of evidence-based medicine.

“Our organizations are firmly opposed to efforts in state legislatures across the United States that inappropriately interfere with the patient-physician relationship, unnecessarily regulate the evidence-based practice of medicine and, in some cases, even criminalize physicians who deliver safe, legal, and necessary medical care.

Physicians should never face imprisonment or other penalties for providing necessary are. These laws force physicians to decide between their patients and facing criminal proceedings. Physicians must be able to practice medicine that is informed by their years of medical education, training, experience, and the available evidence, freely and without threat of criminal punishment.