It has been eight years since the passage of the legislation establishing the New York State Medical Indemnity Fund (MIF or “the Fund”)—Public Health Law article 29-D, Title 4. That law radically altered actions involving neurologic injuries sustained by children around the time of their birth as a result of medical malpractice. It eliminates the defendants’ obligation to pay damages for health care expenses stemming from those injuries, and requires such a plaintiff to be enrolled in the MIF, which is supposed to pay for those expenses. Since we last discussed the MIF in April of 2016, the legislation has undergone significant amendments and judicial interpretation. See Moore & Gaier, New York State Medical Indemnity Experience, NYLJ April 5, 2016, p. 3. Those developments are the subject of this column.
The MIF statute was amended in combined legislation passed in 2016 and 2017, and again in the 2019 state budget legislation. The 2016 amendments were passed unanimously by the Assembly and the Senate in Chapter 517 of the Laws of 2016, but were the subject of chapter amendments in Chapter 4 of the Laws of 2017. The legislation passed in 2016-17 affected the benefits available to persons enrolled in the Fund, and clarified an ambiguity in the language defining the plaintiffs to whom the MIF applies. The changes effected in the 2019 legislation were primarily procedural in nature, but several of them made important changes to the manner in which plaintiffs are admitted into the MIF.
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