Eisenhower Center ‘dismantles’ Ann Arbor brain rehabilitation business after flawless changes
To date, the Eisenhower Center has referred 20 of its 152 patients – 13% – to long-term rehabilitative care with auto insurance coverage, Cornack said.
“Some went to other vendors, some went home, some just went out on the street,” Cornack said. “We are trying to help those that we still can.”
Cornack believes that the survival of Eisenhower Center beyond Labor Day is “highly unlikely.”
“We probably won’t even know until the end of next month (August),” said Cornack, longtime chairman of lobbying organization Coalition Protecting Auto No Fault.
The Jacksonville facility of the Eisenhower Center can operate with a higher staff-to-patient ratio and the cost of living is lower in northeast Florida, said Cornack.
The Professional Golfers Association of America rents the Jacksonville facility – a former PGA Tour Stop shop site – at the Eisenhower Center for more “reasonable” rates than it pays in the heart of Ann Arbor, said Cornack.
“Our rent is high here, we are in Ann Arbor, the cost of living is higher,” he said. “Ann Arbor is not a cheap place to live.”
The Eisenhower Center also runs group home brain injury rehabilitation programs for former professional football players and military veterans in the Manchester countryside and at Selfridge Air Force Base in Harrison Township.
Because of Eisenhower Center’s heavy reliance on no-fault auto insurance payers, these programs are also at risk of being shut down, Cornack said.
“I can only keep it open if Eisenhower is whole,” he said.
Since the new law was passed and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in May 2019, Cornack and other medical providers have pleaded with lawmakers not to be able to absorb a 45% cut in their rates.
The 2019 law gave medical providers two years to diversify their businesses. Some, like the 32-year-old Eisenhower Center, were long built around Michigan’s auto insurance law that offered unlimited medical coverage to seriously injured motorists.
In an effort to diversify sources of payment, the Eisenhower Center has opened beds at the Ann Arbor facility for people with severe behavioral disorders who are receiving treatment through the Medicaid-funded Community Mental Health System, Cornack said.
“We haven’t done that too much in the past because, of course, our format was all about traumatic brain injury,” he said.
At the end of last month, lawmakers sent Whitmer a bill for $ 25 million for a special fund to reimburse medical providers up to $ 500,000 for their costs not covered by the 45% reduction. Providers like Cornack say the fund is unsustainable and too little too late to avoid downsizing and discharging patients.
“We still have the hope that our lawmakers will not continue to harm those catastrophically injured,” said Cornack.
To prepare for the coming financial woes, the Eisenhower Center’s Ann Arbor campus has started laying off a handful of nurses, therapists and program coordinators, Cornack said.
Cornack did not say how many of Ann Arbor’s 350 employees have already been laid off. But some were transferred to the Jacksonville facility; Phil Krueger’s longtime therapist traveled to Florida with him so staff could learn Phil’s daily care and therapy routine, his mother said.
Medical providers caring for road accident victims have filed a lawsuit to challenge the fee schedule, arguing that it modifies a contractual obligation that insurers had to pay for necessary and reasonable care during the life of each injured motorist.
Cornack is not keeping much hope for the litigation, which could take at least two years to get to Michigan Supreme Court.
“You can’t generate two years of income while you are trying to survive litigation,” he said. “It’s not a realistic expectation.”
While the Eisenhower Center organization remains in limbo, Beth Krueger plans to visit her son in Jacksonville in September and again in January to celebrate Phil’s 50th birthday.
Phil Krueger’s father Ron Krueger, a longtime Flint Journal writer, has spent decades defending his son and other car crash victims on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, according to his ex-wife .
Ron Krueger died on June 1 without knowing that his son would be leaving the state a week later due to the change in law, Beth Krueger said.
“We figured if we told him Phil was moving he wouldn’t be able to handle this,” said Beth Krueger. “So we didn’t tell him.”