Legislative Republicans reaffirm support for caps on medical malpractice suits Legislative Republicans reaffirm support for caps on medical malpractice suits

Legislative Republicans Send Letter to Sen. Steinberg, Say Changing MICRA Cap Would Trigger More Junk Lawsuits, Hurt State’s Economy, Threaten Access to Affordable Health Care

SACRAMENTO – Senate and Assembly Republicans today announced that they have sent a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg reaffirming their support for California’s landmark law that sets caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, known as MICRA. They vowed to oppose any legislation to undermine these caps, as they argued it would invite more junk lawsuits, hurt the economy and threaten access to affordable health care.

The text of the letter is below:

March 4, 2014

Hon. Darrell Steinberg
President Pro Tempore
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Senator Steinberg:

We write to express our opposition to your efforts to alter California’s long-established Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA, which caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Since it was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown during his first term as Governor in 1975, California’s MICRA law has made a significant difference in holding down medical liability costs that were skyrocketing before its passage.

By limiting non-economic damage awards to a reasonable amount, and ensuring that more money goes to patients who were actually harmed, MICRA has preserved the availability of affordable health care options for all Californians. At the same time, California’s MICRA law was carefully crafted to fully compensate injured patients by placing no limits on punitive damages or the economic damages that can be recovered.

Because of MICRA, California’s medical malpractice costs are much lower than other states. For example, California OB-GYNs pay approximately $71,000 in annual liability costs, compared with nearly $185,000 in New York and nearly $191,000 in Florida. It has been reported that many counties in New York lack access to specialists in part because of that state’s high malpractice costs.

California already has a significant doctor shortage. We should not make the problem worse by weakening MICRA, which is what will happen if your efforts becomes law.

We are deeply troubled that any effort to change MICRA, however well intentioned, will turn the clock back on the progress made in containing costs, while exposing doctors and health care providers to more junk lawsuits. One study estimated that health care costs in California would rise by at least $9.9 billion each year – or more than $1,000 for every California family of four – if the MICRA caps were lifted from $250,000 to more than $1 million as some have proposed.

Like you, we are concerned about a potentially-bruising and certainly expensive initiative campaign on the issue. But we trust the voters to make the right decision if a reckless measure is placed on the ballot. However, any effort to alter the MICRA formula will be seen as the Legislature surrendering its resolve to uphold critical reforms that have lowered costs while still protecting patients.

For our part, Republicans will fight any legislative efforts like yours to undermine MICRA, as we believe those changes will hurt our economy and threaten access to affordable health care.

Sincerely,

/s/
Bob Huff
Senate Republican Leader

Connie Conway
Assembly Republican Leader

Senator Joel Anderson
Senator Tom Berryhill
Senator Anthony Cannella
Senator Jean Fuller
Senator Ted Gaines
Senator Steve Knight
Senator Jim Nielsen
Senator Andy Vidak
Senator Mimi Walters
Senator Mark Wyland

Assemblymember Travis Allen
Assemblymember Frank Bigelow
Assemblymember Brian Dahle
Assemblymember Beth Gaines
Assemblymember Jeff Gorell
Assemblymember Shannon Grove
Assemblymember Curt Hagman
Assemblymember Diane Harkey
Assemblymember Brian Jones
Assemblymember Eric Linder
Assemblymember Dan Logue
Assemblymember Allan Mansoor
Assemblymember Brian Maienschein
Assemblymember Melissa Melendez
Assemblymember Mike Morrell
Assemblymember Brian Nestande
Assemblymember Kristin Olsen
Assemblymember Jim Patterson
Assemblymember Marie Waldron
Assemblymember Donald P. Wagner
Assemblymember Scott Wilk

 

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