Late yesterday, Californiaâ€™s trial attorneys made good on their May threat to ask voters to repeal Californiaâ€™s landmark Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). Language was submitted to the California Attorney General in Sacramento, the first step in placing an initiative on the ballot. The initiativeâ€™s main provision would increase the cap on speculative, â€œnon-economicâ€ damages from the current $250,000 to more than $1.2 million with automatic increases every year.
The measure filed yesterday is nothing more than a self-serving attempt by trial lawyers to generate more in legal fees.
The California Medical Association (CMA) and a coalition of doctors, hospitals, nurses, community clinics, local governments, labor unions, police, emergency responders, employer groups and others will wage a significant campaign to expose the lawyersâ€™ self-serving agenda and to defeat the measure.
If the trial lawyers are successful, it will cause malpractice rates to skyrocket for physicans, force the closure of safety net clinics and recreate the same conditions that threatened to throw Californiaâ€™s health care system into crisis during the early 1970s.
In 1974 and 1975, medical malpractice premiums increased on average 250 percent for physicians, which led to a crisis of unprecedented proportions that forced providers close their doors, raise patient fee, go without coverage or just leaving California altogether. This is why MICRA was passed by the legislature to protect patients and physicians from repeating the crisis of the past.
â€œThe measure filed today is nothing more than a self-serving attempt by trial lawyers to generate more in legal fees,â€ said Paul R. Phinney, M.D., CMA president. â€œMore meritless lawsuits against health care providers do nothing to improve health care quality. They only enrich lawyers at everyone elseâ€™s expense.â€ Phinney pointed to recent polling which found that 59 percent of voters support MICRA, with 30 percent â€œstronglyâ€ in support.
Physicians know the value of MICRA, but it will be costly to educate the general public to ensure they are not misled by deceitful trial attorneys looking for increased paydays. Funding is needed to continue our public outreach campaign, targeted voter mailings and strategic advertising. Each of these tactics helps ensure that Californiaâ€™s public knows the tremendous threat posed to health care in California by the trial attorneys’ misguided money grab.