For the second time in two years, a state legislature task force has recommended that the Maryland legislature create a no-fault birth injury fund. The most recent endorsement occurred in December, 2015. Unlike the previous year, this time the task force included both insurance and legal representatives.
The proposed fund, which would be similar to those in Virginia and Florida, would provide medical care for babies who suffer neurological injuries at birth. For a number of reasons, the birth injury fund is the subject of some controversy.
Financing for the Fund at Issue
The Virginia and Florida funds are financed by hospitals and insurance companies, based on a system that sets rates. However, the most recent Maryland version does not specify how it would obtain financing, which caused one medical-professional liability insurer, Medical Mutual, to refrain from voting on the funding part of the report. The insurer did, however, favor the general concept.
The Maryland bill introduced previously would have established a fund paid for by hospitals to the tune of $25 million. But some estimates indicate that only about seven infants would qualify for a piece of the fund each year. Because in Maryland we could have as many as 150 birth injuries each year, the funding model could be considered woefully insufficient. In short, the fund would not enable medical care for all the babies it was supposed to help. This previous bill failed to pass the General Assembly in 2015.
While the proposed fund would help heal children and reduce litigation costs, it appears that the fund would not benefit most of the children who would need medical assistance. Some people also fear that the fund would limit the amounts and types of compensation available to the injured child and their family, leaving them without recourse and without sufficient funding. At issue are things such as future medical care and the loss of future income over the life of the child.
The Issues of Malpractice Insurance and Bad Doctors
Those who favor the birth injury fund claim that such a fund would reduce the potential for a shortage of obstetricians in Maryland due to high malpractice insurance costs and fears of lawsuits. They argue that the reduced costs of insurance and risks of malpractice suits would be lessened, keeping more doctors in the state.
But those opposed to the birth injury fund question whether the problem actually exists, and whether the data actually indicates a need for such action. A letter to the task force from the Maryland Association for Justice (MAJ), who was represented on the task force, stated that no-fault systems eliminate public accountability because they allow negligent physicians to continue practicing and weaken patients’ rights.
Other critics of the birth injury fund believe that it would require several hundred million dollars a year to operate, making you wonder how financing would be obtained. It’s worth noting that the task force itself neither agreed on how costs would be covered nor approved the idea that hospitals would provide all the needed funding.
We all want to help innocent infants who sustain permanent injury through no fault of their own. But the latest proposed version of the no-fault birth injury fund may not be the right answer for Maryland children and their families.
Let Down by the Health Care Industry? We Can Help
An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to listen to the facts of your case, conduct a thorough investigation, and help you devise a legal strategy for obtaining compensation for your injuries. Due to the involvement of insurance companies and defendants who can afford a strong legal team, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with an attorney who has extensive experience when it comes to medical malpractice. Not every medical malpractice claim will hold up in court. However, the only way to determine this is through a thorough case review.