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CFO Patronis Issues Statement on NICA Reform Bill Approval

6/21/2021

For Immediate Release: Monday, June 21, 2021
Contact: Office of Communications, Communications@MyFloridaCFO.com, 850.413.2842

CFO Patronis Issues Statement on NICA Reform Bill Approval
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis issued a statement following the Governor’s approval of Senate Bill 1786, which fundamentally reforms the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA). Among many of the reforms, the bill instructs NICA to provide up to $100,000 in housing assistance for the life of the child and increases the initial benefits payable to families with injured children from $100,000 to $250,000 and increases the death benefit from $10,000 to $50,000. The bill also makes the latter two benefit increases retroactive. The legislation also expands the Board of Directors to include one parent or legal guardian of a plan participant and one representative of a disability advocacy organization.
 
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “With the Governor’s approval of Senate Bill 1786, NICA is now a fundamentally different program. This law represents a major paradigm shift, as of now NICA must be fully engaged in the overall wellbeing of these families and children. Overall, these families are going to get more relief and it is our job to ensure the board is holding NICA accountable and seeing these reforms are implemented. Now we have got a board we are looking to fill and we have already begun the process of asking for recommendations from the organizations outlined in the bill.”
 
Senator Danny Burgess said, “Thank you to Governor DeSantis for signing this critical legislation today, that I had the privilege of sponsoring. The NICA program has been in need of reforms for quite some time now and this legislation is an important step in the right direction. On behalf of all of the NICA families who have struggled, this is a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. It was an honor work with CFO Patronis on this important issue, and I will continue working every day to support Floridians in need. Thank you to my colleagues in both the House and Senate for seeing this bill through.
 
Representative Traci Koster said, “It was an honor to sponsor the NICA legislation this session, which will help ensure so many struggling families get the help and care they deserve. I’m proud of my colleagues in the legislature for stepping up for these families. As a mother of two, I know there is nothing more important than ensuring your child has the proper care they need to live a long healthy life. This legislation brings needed changes to the NICA program and improves services that they provide. Thank you to Governor DeSantis and CFO Patronis for fighting for our NICA families.
 
Senate Bill 1786 creates meaningful reforms to allow NICA families to focus on their children and not benefit appeals. Among many provisions the new law: 
 
• Directs the plan to cover up to $10,000 per household, per year in psychotherapeutic benefits for immediate family members residing in the same household;
• Provides for an automatic 3% annual adjustment to the revised initial benefits;
• Retroactively authorizes NICA to furnish the increased initial benefit amount ($150,000) to families currently participating in the NICA program;
• Raises the death benefit from $10,000 to $50,000;
• Directs NICA to pay the increased benefit ($40,000) to families who participated in the program before their child passed away; and
• Prevents a board member from voting on petitions where he or she is named in the petition.
 
Upon revelations that families in the program were facing challenges in receiving benefits, the CFO took three important actions:
 
1. The CFO asked the Insurance Consumer Advocate to get engaged and help advocate on behalf of these families to NICA and at the Division of Administrative Hearings.
 
2. The CFO requested the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) conduct an operational audit on NICA.
 
3. The CFO contributed ideas to both the House and Senate. Some of those ideas included expanding the board representation to provide families a greater voice and giving NICA more flexibility in how it delivers services so families do not have to seek out a doctor’s note for each-and-every issue.
 
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis 
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).