Jul 24, 2013
Trial Lawyer-Backed Ballot Initiative Submitted to Raise MICRA Cap
SACRAMENTO – A ballot initiative that would dramatically weaken California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) was submitted for title and summary today with the California Attorney General’s office. MICRA allows for unlimited economic and punitive damages for patients in medical malpractice cases as well as an additional $250,000 for non-economic damages. The initiative would adjust MICRA’s limit on non-economic damages to reflect any increase in inflation since the law was enacted in 1975 and require an additional annual adjustment for inflation going forward. This would raise would raise the current limit of $250,000 to approximately $1.1 million. Kim Stone, president of the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), issued the following statement:
“This proposed initiative, which is backed by trial lawyers who would be able to make more money in medical malpractice cases, could not come at a worse time and I am confident that California voters would easily recognize that. California is in the middle of implementing the Affordable Care Act and working to accommodate millions of new patients. The worst thing we could do is create greater incentives to sue medical providers and drive up their liability costs when there is already a shortage of providers to care for these new patients. MICRA was enacted because too many providers could not afford the excessive medical liability costs in our state. The law has been left as is by the Legislature and the courts for a reason: it is good public policy that fairly compensates patients while limiting health care costs and improving access to care.”
One recent study showed that raising MICRA’s limit on non-economic damages just from $250,000 to $500,000 would raise healthcare costs in California by at least $9.5 billion annually.
The text of the proposed initiative, which also addresses drug testing for physicians and prescription drug tracking, can be found here.