California trial lawyers have signaled their intention to once again attack the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA) in this legislative session.  MICRA is considered the national gold standard among tort reform law, dramatically reducing the cost of malpractice coverage in California to provide greater access to care.  Trial lawyers threaten to once again argue that MICRA’s $250,000 cap on “pain and suffering” damages should be increased because it remains unchanged since 1975 and it limits injured patients’ access to the courts.  In the Legislature’s last debate over this issue, the trial lawyers sought to increase the cap to $1 million and establish an annual cost-of-living increase. 

The CMA was joined in opposition to this attack by health care safety-net organizations throughout California – self-insured counties and county health systems, the UC Health system, community clinics, Planned Parenthood, emergency care organizations, and many others – who pointed out the societal imperative to moderate awards for “emotional loss” in favor of preserving scarce health care dollars for patient care.  Assertions that patients are being denied access to the courts were also debunked.

The CMA is responding to trial lawyer propaganda with information that educates legislators about the merits of MICRA as good public policy, and is preparing for a legislative battle if that becomes necessary.  If a battle ensues, the ACCMA and CMA will call on the membership to support this effort.