Southern California Record

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

CAPP: Lifting medical malpractice caps would hurt access to health care

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By Kyla Asbury | Oct 25, 2019


SACRAMENTO – An organization that supports the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975 said an initiative by Consumer Watchdog would hurt access to health care.

"While we are still reviewing the details of the initiative, we know it includes many provisions that would hurt access to health care, especially for California's most vulnerable populations," Lisa Maas, executive director of Californians Allied for Patient Protection (CAPP), said in a statement provided to The Southern California Record.

Maas said the law that's been in place for decades, limiting awards for "pain and suffering" to $250,000, makes sure Californians have access. The law does not limit how much an injured person can receive for damages such as loss of income and medical expenses. 

"MICRA provides stability and offers an assurance that Californians will continue having access to doctors, nurses, hospitals and community clinics," Maas said. "That's why more than 1,000 statewide organizations representing physicians, dentists, nurses, hospitals, community clinics, emergency providers, public safety, local governments, labor unions, women's health advocates and other health-care organizations share our commitment to protecting access to health care through MICRA."

Maas said California voters have staunchly rejected changes to the law.

"Ultimately, when faced with a similar decision based on an initiative backed by trial lawyers, California voters realized that changes to MICRA would leave them with increased costs and decreased access to health-care providers," Maas said. "That is why they resoundingly rejected the proposition by a two-to-one margin across the state."

MICRA also provides unlimited awards for intentional acts.

Consumer Watchdog has proposed a 2020 initiative to raise the cap on medical malpractice compensation. The organization believes the cap is draconian and needs to be changed because $250,000 doesn't stretch the same as it did in 1975.

A press release noted that 20 states in the country have no caps at all, while 15 have caps with exemptions for wrongful death or catastrophic injury. The press release says California is one of three states with a cap as low as $250,000 with no exceptions.

"We’re working on the initiative, and it's being funded by Nick Rowley, a trial attorney," Consumer Watchdog executive director Carmen Balber said in an interview with The Southern California Record.

Balber said two proponents are driving the change: two families whose children have been forever harmed by medical negligence.

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