CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Jan 26, 2011

CJAC Supports President's Support of Medical Malpractice Reform

Kimberly Stone, President of the Civil Justice Association of California, issued the following statement today in response to President Obama’s indicating support for medical malpractice reform in his State of the Union address Tuesday night:

CJAC commends President Obama for supporting the concept of nationwide medical malpractice reform in the State of the Union address. California’s doctors, medical providers, and legal reform advocates are willing and eager to work with Congress and the Administration to bring reforms that have worked successfully for many years in California to the rest of the nation.

At a time when trial lawyers are working hard to weaken or repeal California’s landmark Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), we are encouraged that the President last night said he was “willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one … suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.” MICRA has done just that in California.

MICRA allows for unlimited economic damages for past and future medical costs, lost wages, and punitive damages in medical malpractice cases - and also provides up to $250,000 for speculative, non-economic damages (so-called pain and suffering), while limiting attorneys’ fees so that more money goes to the patient.

The law has stabilized medical malpractice insurance costs, preserving patient access to thousands of physicians, nurses, hospitals, clinics, dentists, and other healthcare providers. In fact, just increasing the amount of non-economic damages allowed under MICRA from $250,000 to $500,000 would raise healthcare costs in California by at least $9.5 billion annually, according to a 2008 report by California’s former nonpartisan legislative analyst. That translates into $1,032 annually for a family of four.

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