March 11, 2004 - Virginia Passes Bills to Boost Funding for Birth Injuries

The Virginia State Senate and the House of Delegates passed competing proposals in March to boost funding for a state program that pays the lifetime medical expenses of children injured at birth.

About 75 children currently participate in the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program. The program is estimated to be around $140 million short of the money needed to provide for the lifetime medical care of its current participants.

The Senate passed legislation that would increase the fees that doctors and hospitals pay into the program by a vote of 39-1. The House passed a different bill that would raise the fees and also bar children from entering the program if their birth weight did not exceed 4.4 pounds. That bill passed 98-1.

The Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program was established 17 years ago by the General Assembly in an effort to make medical malpractice insurance more accessible and affordable. Children who are accepted into the program are ineligible for medical malpractice suits.

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