Florida’s Public Records and Sunshine Laws made it possible for Miami Herald and ProPublica reporters to uncover how a state program created to serve children with devastating birth injuries protected physicians and denied participants medical care. The reporting prompted lawmakers and the state’s chief financial watchdog to reform the program.
The board chairman of the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA) became the latest board member to resign. In its legislature overhaul of NICA, lawmakers expanded the five-member board — which included two doctors, two insurance industry members and a hospital administrator — to seven members. For the first time, the board must now include a parent in the NICA program and an advocate for children with special needs.
Access to meetings and records facilitated the Herald’s reporting. Reporters attended NICA board meetings and hearings held by the Department of Administrative Hearings on claims made to NICA. In addition, reporters analyzed every NICA case filed at DOAH — around 1,200 — and redacted case management files which revealed how NICA handled claims. Public information and meetings were essential to holding the government program accountable and shining on a light on the inequities of the program.
Read more about the latest change to the program here.