TRIAL LAWYERS, ALLIES FILE SIGNATURES FOR MICRA LAWSUIT INITIATIVE THAT WILL HIKE COSTS FOR CA TAXPAYERS, HEALTH CONSUMERS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, March 24, 2014
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Jason Kinney at (916) 806-2719
Measure Could Cost Taxpayers “Hundreds of Millions;” Opposed by Doctors, Dentists, Health Providers, Business Groups, Local Governments, Community Clinics & Planned Parenthood
SACRAMENTO – Today, a group funded exclusively by trial attorneys filed signatures with county registrars to qualify a measure for the November ballot that would significantly add to the overall number of medical lawsuits, increase costs for both health consumers and state taxpayers and reduce access to health care in rural and underserved communities across California.
The MICRA (“Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act”) lawsuit initiative was immediately criticized by a growing coalition of doctors, dentists, hospitals, health providers, business groups, civil liberties groups, local governments, community clinics and Planned Parenthood as “too costly,” “too deceptive,” “too unworkable,” and “jeopardizing patient access.”
What’s more, a recent non-partisan study raises serious concerns whether the measure can even be feasibly implemented and whether patients might be denied appropriate treatment.
“A ballot measure that is certain to generate more medical lawsuits and drive up costs for every health consumer in California is the worst possible idea at the worst possible time,” said Dr. Richard Thorp, M.D., President of the California Medical Association. “This initiative is bad for patients, bad for taxpayers and bad for California’s entire system of health care delivery.”
According to California’s independent Legislative Analyst, the proposed measure could increase state and local government health costs by “hundreds of millions of dollars annually.” A study by Bill Hamm, the former Legislative Analyst, concluded the measure could increase health care costs across all sectors by $9.9 billion per year – or roughly $1,000 for an average family of four.
“If this measure passes, it will cost taxpayers, health consumers and local governments across our state a significant amount of money,” said Cathy Frey, CEO of the Central Valley Health Network.
As written, the measure will make it harder for community health clinics to provide access to quality care, to attract skilled physicians or to offer specialist services to their patients.
“By worsening the physician shortage in our state, especially obstetricians and other needed specialists, the policy changes proposed in this measure will potentially do great harm to women and families throughout California,” said Kathy Kneer, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.
“This initiative will have a severe and negative effect on the ability of community clinics to serve their patients, many of whom are children,” said Jane Garcia, CEO of La Clínica de La Raza, one of the largest community health centers in California.
In addition to the costly centerpiece provision to raise the cap on non-economic damages in malpractice cases by more than 400 percent, the measure includes two unrelated mandates requiring drug and alcohol testing of physicians and the use of a government-run prescription-drug database before patients receive many new prescriptions. The measure’s supporters have admitted these provisions were written by focus groups, not health experts. “It’s the ultimate sweetener,” said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog, told the Los Angeles Times.i
According to a memo from David Binder Research, when voters are read the proponent’s “sweetener” quote, 60 percent “say they are concerned that the measure was designed to focus on one element to distract from the true – and less popular – purpose.”
“Voters are tired of ballot measures that masquerade as one thing while attempting to conceal another motive,” said Jim DeBoo, campaign manager for the broad-based coalition of Californians formed to oppose the MICRA lawsuit initiative. “The proponents of this measure are unapologetic about it – they’ve added ‘sweeteners’ to sugarcoat the upsurge in lawsuits and costs to everyday Californians who can least afford it.”
Even worse, a report by non-partisan experts, including a former state Director of Finance, states that the database physicians and pharmacists must consult before providing new prescription drugs will not be fully functional “for years” and will force providers to choose between “denying treatment to their patients or violating” the law.
“In multiple ways, this terribly flawed measure will make it more difficult for Californians to get the medical treatment they need – when they need it,” said Dr. Hector Flores, Chairman of the Latino Physicians Advisory Committee for the Los Angeles County Medical Association.
To learn much more about the myriad of hidden costs, consequences and flaws in the trial-lawyer-supported MICRA lawsuit initiative, visit the “Stop Higher Health Care Costs/Protect Access to Care” website at: www.StopHigherHealthCareCosts.com.
The MICRA lawsuit measure is formally opposed by (partial list):
- California Medical Association
- California Dental Association
- California Hospital Association
- California Pharmacists Association
- American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- American College of Emergency Physicians, California Chapter
- California Association of Physician Groups
- California Association for Nurse Practitioners
- Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
- La Clínica de La Raza
- California Association of Rural Health Clinics
- Central Valley Health Network
- California Chamber of Commerce
- California Black Chamber of Commerce
- California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- City of Long Beach
- American Civil Liberties Union, Northern California
- American Civil Liberties Union, San Diego and Imperial Counties
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iLos AngelesTimes, December 10, 2013