California Medical Association, California Hospital Association, California Dental Association, and the American Medical Association will participate today in oral argument defending the constitutionality of MICRA.
The California Medical Association will argue in favor of maintaining California’s successful Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) before the 5th Appellate District Court in Fresno today. The court will hear oral arguments in the case of Stinnett v. Tam, a case challenging the constitutionality of MICRA’s cap on non-economic damages. Counsel for amici California Medical Association-California Hospital Association-California Dental Association and the American Medical Association, will participate in the proceedings.
“MICRA is the national model for medical liability reform,” said Francisco Silva, CMA General Counsel. “The law was passed in response to a crisis to protect patients and ensure that physicians be able to practice medicine. The law has worked to keep medical liability rates low and has allowed doctors to remain in practice treating their patients.”
The entire medical and health care community is supportive of MICRA and has stood firmly behind it throughout each legal challenge. Stinnet v. Tam
is the latest of these challenges funded by trial lawyer groups from around the country.
Under MICRA, injured patients are fairly compensated, medical liability rates are kept in check, and physicians and clinics can remain in practice treating patients. MICRA allows patients with justifiable medical negligence claims to receive the following forms of compensation:
- Unlimited economic damages for past and future medical costs.
- Unlimited damages for lost wages, lifetime earning potential or any other economic losses.
- Unlimited punitive damages.
- Up to $250,000 for non-economic damages, also called pain and suffering.
- MICRA also includes a sliding pay scale to control attorney contingency fees, ensuring that more money goes to patients, not lawyers.
MICRA has proven effective in reducing and stabilizing medical liability insurance costs, which in turn has helped limit the rate of growth in health care costs and increased access to health care for all Californians.
Not surprisingly, trial lawyers have long sought to overturn the limits on non-economic damages. Each attempt has been unsuccessful. That’s why in addition to challenging the law in the court, trial lawyers also will be seeking changes in the California State Legislature. It is expected their changes to MICRA will include quadrupling the non-economic damages cap to $1 million.