What the Miami Herald, ProPublica reported
In collaboration with the investigative reporting nonprofit ProPublica, the Miami Herald published a series of articles revealing how a program created to help the families of children with profound birth-related brain damage hoarded assets while denying families basic care and services, including wheelchairs, therapy, transportation and in-home nursing.
When families entered the program they lost any right to sue doctors or hospitals over their child’s injuries. The law promised “medically necessary” and “reasonable” healthcare — but administrators often spent more money fighting families than providing care. The state-sponsored program’s assets, sustained by fees paid by doctors and hospitals that benefit from the ban on lawsuits, now total nearly $1.5 billion.
How the state responded
The Florida Legislature rewrote the law governing the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, or NICA, making it much harder for the program to deny services and care. Additionally, parents of children in the program were awarded an immediate $150,000 supplement to help families cover the costs of care, and an additional $10,000 annually for mental health treatment.
NICA parents whose children had died received retroactive compensation for final expenses. NICA’s board, long dominated by insurance and healthcare industry professionals, exited en masse, with parents and disability rights advocates given seats — and a voice in the program’s management — for the first time.
The board will now pick a replacement for Executive Director Kenney Shipley.
The original stories can be found here. (Click “expand all” beneath series logo.)