Ahead of the 2016 General Assembly session, a task force created by the state legislature has for the second time in two years recommended that the state create a birth injury fund that would help care for babies born with neurological injuries.
The no-fault fund, modeled after those in Virginia and Florida, has been opposed by patient advocates and malpractice attorneys. But the authors of both reports said it would help more children get needed care while avoiding a costly court battle.
Supporters of the fund also say it would also protect women’s access to care by preserving obstetric practices that feared large malpractice suits and high insurance premiums.
“This new report is another stark reminder that Maryland is facing a looming crisis in access to obstetrical care,” said Beth Laverick, president of the Maryland Maternity Access Coalition, made up of providers, businesses and citizens. “This report and the continued reduction of obstetrical services throughout the state is a major wake-up call for the General Assembly to take action to address the crisis by implementing a no-fault birth injury fund that would help families and protect access to care.”
A task force last year was made up entirely of those in health care, but this panel included insurance and legal representatives, though neither group supported the report’s recommendation to create a fund.
Medical Mutual, a physician-owned medical professional liability insurer in Maryland, said in a letter attached to the report that it supported the concept of a fund but since there was no funding mechanism specified it abstained from voting on the fund portion of the report.
Maryland Association for Justice, a trial lawyer association said in a letter that the fund would be costly and it’s unclear if its needed because there are enough doctors to provide care and the malpractice insurance industry is stable. Also, it said it could be unfair to victims who should be able to seek accountability in a public forum that holds providers responsible for care provided.