SB 869 — Maryland No-Fault Birth Injury Fund

Committee: Senate Judicial Proceedings

Position: SUPPORT

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

Senate Bill 869 would create a no-fault birth injury fund to provide fair and equitable compensation on a no-fault basis for a limited class of birth-related injuries.

The Church supports legislation that ensures access to quality, affordable, life-giving health care for all. Access to medical care is considered a basic human right that flows from the dignity of the human person.

In Maryland, there is a growing concern that recent multimillion-dollar medical malpractice judgments could limit maternity care access for low-income expectant mothers. Maryland had a total medical malpractice payout amount of $109 million in 2015, making Maryland one of nine states with over $100 million in payouts. Hospitals in Maryland are concerned that these jury awards could result in a significant reduction in maternity health care services because medical decisions could be based more on the fear of a malpractice lawsuit than what is best for the patient. There is evidence to support the fact that such concerns have been realized in other areas of the country as well.

Fortunately, a precedent exists to combat these growing concerns. The establishment of no-fault birth injury funds in states such as Virginia and Florida show that fair and equitable solutions are available to protect both injured parties and health care providers. Protecting one of Maryland’s most vulnerable populations, low-income mothers and young children, is a worthy endeavor. The Conference supports creating a no-fault birth injury fund that provides, first and foremost, the necessary care of injured parties while also limiting liability costs for health care providers who administer care to Maryland’s most vulnerable populations.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and, for these reasons, respectfully requests a favorable report on Senate Bill 869.