On Wednesday, the trial lawyers filed an anti-MICRA initiative that would increase MICRA’s cap on non-economic damages from $250,000 up to $1.2 million. Titled the “Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act of 2014,” after the two children of technology entrepreneur Bob Pack who were killed by a drugged and intoxicated driver, the trial lawyers are using their front organization Consumer Watchdog to promote the initiative and are dressing it up as a “patient safety” measure by including draconian provisions that portray physicians as a threat to patient safety, requiring mandatory drug testing of physicians, mandatory reporting of physicians who practice under the standard of care or who are intoxicated when an adverse event occurs, and other punitive provisions.

While these “safety” provisions are outrageous enough, the trial lawyers’ primary goal of increasing MICRA’s cap on non-economic damages to $1.2 million would have a crippling effect on physicians and patients. It would more than double the cost of medical malpractice insurance for physicians, rob safety net providers (county health systems, community clinics, the UC health care system, Planned Parenthood, etc.) of millions of dollars currently spent to care for low-income and uninsured patients, and threaten high-risk physicians’ (Obstetrics, Neurosurgery, Emergency Medicine) ability to remain in practice. Before MICRA was enacted, physicians faced increases in malpractice insurance rates of up to 400%, if they could get coverage at all.

This is the first step in a protracted trial lawyer campaign to increase the cap in non-economic damages leading up to the November, 2014 election. The trial lawyers have invested heavily in high profile campaign advisers, including former President Clinton’s campaign manager and lobbyists representing the highest profile interest groups in Sacramento. They are hoping that filing this initiative will pressure the legislature to pass legislation to increase MICRA’s cap before the end of this session, or prompt the CMA and its allies to seek a compromise. CMA’s advocacy in the Legislature continues to stymie the trial lawyers’ greedy proposals, and the CMA remains resolute in steadfastly refusing to compromise the good public policy that MICRA promotes by helping to control health care costs and preserve access to care for our most vulnerable patients.

The CMA – joined by a coalition of hospitals, nurses, community clinics, local governments, labor unions, police, emergency responders, employer groups and others – will wage a significant campaign to expose the lawyers’ self-serving agenda and to defeat the measure. It will be costly to educate the general public to ensure they are not misled by deceitful trial attorneys looking for increased paydays. This will not be an easy fight, and additional funding is needed to continue the public outreach campaign, targeted voter mailings and strategic advertising. Your help in this battle is needed in three essential ways:

  • Click here to contribute to CMA’s political action committee, CALPAC, to support the campaign.
  • Ask your medical staff to support CMA’s MICRA Education Fund – contact the ACCMA at 510-654-5383 for more information.
  • Insist your non-member colleagues join the fight by becoming a member of the ACCMA/CMA. Refer them to www.accma.org to join.

Click here for more information on MICRA, including the latest developments and how you can help.