NICA, Florida’s Newborn Injury Compensation Act – 2010

In the early 1980’s there was a major medical malpractice insurance crisis in my home state of Florida.  Obstetricians and gynecologists could not afford to purchase medical malpractice insurance at the price it was being offered at, when it rarely was being offered. The fear was that an Ob-GGYN would deliver a deformed or injured child while performing his hospital required emergency department coverage and be sued for a staggering sum to pay the medical costs and damages for the infant for the rest of his or her life. Obstetricians stopped agreeing to see and treat pregnant women because of the risk involved.

The Florida State Legislature then came up with the idea of creating the Newborn Injury Compensation Act which created a fund to pay for the medical care and damages associated with injuries occurring during the childbirth process.  This fund was supposed to keep obstetricians out of court. This compromise legislation was initially supported by the Florida Medical Association as a short term solution to a problem. Every doctor in Florida was fined, or taxed, $250 per year to pay for birthing injuries while obstetricians paid $5000 per year. The first thing that happened after this was signed into law is that the Florida Trial Lawyers Association found away around it so they could continue to sue obstetricians for medical malpractice.  The second thing that has occurred in the twenty some odd years since its inception is that the NICA fund has never paid out anything to an injured party.

NICA is essentially an additional $250 per year tax on physicians for the privilege of practicing medicine in the State of Florida. The Legislature has decided that expectant mothers who live on a diet of barbecue potato chips, pineapple soda pop and Marlboro’s and has their first pre natal visit when in their ninth month and crowning are the legal responsibility of doctors only. The Florida Medical Association has been so busy with so many issues that it has not had the time or resources to work for the abolition of this unfair tax on physicians.

It’s time this unfair tax is repealed. Reproductive education, prenatal care and visits to a doctor when pregnant are not only the responsibility of the physicians’ community alone but of the public at large.

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