Birth Rights

Investigating Florida’s NICA Program

The NICA program was intended to reduce doctors’ malpractice bills and provide a dignified existence and financial cushion for families crushed by the delivery of an infant with devastating brain damage. But some parents report a program that’s both indifferent to their fears and hostile to their needs.

Florida Program to Aid Brain-Damaged Kids Often Told Families No. It’s Promising to Change.

The program promised support while taking away parents’ right to seek justice. Instead, NICA often forced parents to go through the state’s Medicaid safety net first — including appeals. Now, a proposed set of rules could change the approach.

“These Findings Boggle My Mind”: Audit Rips Apart Florida Program Created to Aid Brain-Damaged Kids

An audit found families got little support from NICA, a program set up to help care for brain-damaged kids. A Miami Herald/ProPublica investigation previously showed that NICA amassed a fortune while arbitrarily denying children care.

After 33 Years, Parents of Brain-Damaged Kids Get to Express Disgust With Florida Program

Our reporting prompted changes in state law, and on Wednesday, the program’s executive director resigned. Parents had harsh words about the way they and their children have been treated.

The Director of Florida’s Program for Brain Damaged Infants Has Resigned

The head of NICA, or the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, resigned following a report from ProPublica and the Miami Herald detailing families’ struggles as they sought — and were often denied — support they’d been promised.

Audit Confirms That a Program for Brain-Damaged Kids Arbitrarily Denied Claims and Overspent on Perks

A new report validates many of the findings of an investigation published by the Miami Herald and ProPublica about Florida’s Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, or NICA.

Future of Program for Brain-Damaged Children Now Rests With Powerful Florida Official

Florida’s chief financial officer must name new board members for the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, as his office undertakes an audit and an investigation prompted by our reporting.

To Get a Shot at Justice, They Were Forced to Prove Their Disabled Daughter’s Intelligence

To qualify for Florida's NICA program, infants must suffer “substantial” damage to both body and mind. Though her body was broken, Brooklyn Grant’s mother and teachers knew she was smart. This is how they stood their ground — and won.

Florida Governor Signs Law Reforming Program for Brain-Damaged Infants

Parents who participate in the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, or NICA, receive a pledge from lawmakers that they will no longer have to fight for “medically necessary” expenses the program has claimed to cover all along.

A Program Promised to Pay for Brain-Damaged Infants’ Care. Then It Sent Families to Medicaid Instead.

Florida lawmakers stripped parents of the right to sue over births gone terribly wrong, created a program to cover those claims, made hundreds of millions investing the program’s funds and then offloaded much of the actual costs to Medicaid.

Florida Program to Aid Brain-Damaged Infants Publicly Embraces Reforms It Once Fought

While the executive director of the Florida program has sent a letter to families saying they will get more benefits and “services you have long deserved,” some parents ask why NICA waited until lawmakers insisted before embracing reform.

Florida Lawmakers Send Lifeline to Families With Brain-Damaged Children

After a series of investigative articles by the Miami Herald and ProPublica, the Florida Legislature passed a host of reforms to a state-run program for children born with catastrophic brain injuries.

Parents Want Justice for Birth Injuries. Hospitals Want to Strip Them of the Right to Make That Decision.

Florida hospitals rely on the state’s NICA program to protect themselves from costly lawsuits. When parents resist, some of those same hospitals ask a judge to appoint an “independent guardian” to take the decision away.

Florida Lawmakers Endorse Wide-Ranging Reforms in Program to Aid Brain-Damaged Babies

Bills in the Florida House and Senate would increase benefits for families of brain-damaged babies, add parental representation to the program’s board and create an ombudsman, following investigative stories by the Miami Herald and ProPublica.

“We Are Not Here or Funded to ‘Promote the Best Interest’ of the Children,” Wrote the Head of a Program for Brain-Damaged Infants

A Florida program promises support to families of severely brain-damaged infants. Instead, parents have been forced to choose between parenting and a paycheck. Poor communication and bureaucratic hurdles have made the situation worse.

Florida Plans Audit of Program That Blocks Parents of Brain-Damaged Newborns From Suing

Officials called for reforms hours after an investigation by the Miami Herald and ProPublica identified gaps in a Florida program that strips families of their right to sue when births go horribly wrong.

She Can’t Sue Her Doctor Over Her Baby’s Death. When She Spoke Out, She Was Silenced Again.

Ruth Jacques, distraught over the fatal injuries her son suffered during childbirth, couldn’t sue her doctor because of an obscure Florida state law. When she protested at his office, she was told to cease and desist.

When Births Go Horribly Wrong, Florida Protects Doctors and Forces Families to Pay the Price

A Florida program designed to reduce doctors’ malpractice bills strips families of their right to sue, offering instead a one-time payment and promises to cover medical expenses. Some parents report a bureaucratic nightmare that’s anything but supportive.

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