Florida has a program in place called the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association or NICA. This program covers hospitals and doctors who are at least partially responsible for serious birth injuries in babies. The state says they provide $100,000 upfront and pays for “medically necessary” care for the child's lifetime. In exchange for entering the program the parents give up their right to sue hospitals and doctors. This program seems ridiculous as what parent would trust Florida to provide "medically necessary" care for their child for the rest of their life. Obviously, the state would probably deem very little to be medically necessary as the child grew older, ultimately, leaving the parents with the financial burden of care and support. Any parent in this situation would easily choose to sue the hospital and doctors if they were indeed at fault.
Of course, NICA came under fire this month after a report by the Miami Herald and ProPublica. Turns out the $100,000 grant, an amount that hasn't changed in 25 years, is not enough to pay for anything. In the least surprising news of all, payments for medical procedures or equipment are always slow paid or denied entirely. To add insult to injury, the lawyers for St. Petersburg General Hospital argued in a recent lawsuit that parents that elected to forgo the NICA benefits instead choosing to sue the hospital were not acting in their child's best interests and those parents should be stripped of decision making and those decisions should be made by an "independent" guardian appointed by the court. Imagine watching a hospital permanently injure your newborn baby and then tell you that you don't know what's best for you baby? Malpractice litigation is expensive and comes with its own set of unique challenges, but tort reforms like these, and all tort reform in general, is just a vehicle for insurance companies to increase profits due to artificial limits being put on claims. These types of programs and policies are detrimental to everyday consumers and offer no benefit to anyone but insurance companies already making billions of dollars in profits every year.