News broke Wednesday of an agreement that will avoid a costly MICRA battle at the ballot box in November.
Since 1975, California state law has limited how much money patients can win for things that can’t be counted — such as pain and suffering — to $250,000.
Patients’ rights groups and attorneys have tried for decades to raise that limit, with health care groups saying that would result in soaring malpractice insurance premiums, putting some doctors and clinics out of business.
A new bill in the state Legislature, supported by both sides of the MICRA fight, would gradually increase the limit over the next 10 years. The bill has the support of the California Medical Association, the Consumer Attorneys of California, Californians Allied for Patient Protection, state legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said he would sign it into law.
LACMA President, Dr. Jeffery Lee, shared the news and additional information with members on Wednesday:
CMA and the coalition of healthcare providers have agreed to maintain the structure of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). This agreement preserves the original statutory provisions of MICRA while adjusting the limits on non-economic damages.
This agreement avoids the potential passage of the so-called Fairness for Injured Patients Act (FIPA) that will be withdrawn from the November ballot. This proposition would have created a back door for unlimited non-economic damages, put physicians' personal assets at risk, and raise the cost of healthcare for all Californians. Attached is a letter from CMA President, Dr. Bob Wailes, regarding the new MICRA Modernization for 2022.
Many physicians have contacted LACMA to express their interest in preserving MICRA and their concerns about the negotiations that have completed. We hope to have CMA CEO Dustin Corcoran available to help answer your questions and concerns.
As LACMA President, I have made countless presentations to hospital staffs and medical groups that LACMA stands behind. So while I am disappointed that the caps will be raised, I am also heartened that the so-called FIPA will be withdrawn. LACMA remains steadfast in our commitment to our physician members and will be holding a forum for our members to share concerns and disagreements.
Dr. Jeffery Lee
President, Los Angeles County Medical Association