Californians Allied For Patient Protection: Trial Lawyers Sponsor Self-Serving Ballot Measure To Make It Easier And More Lucrative To File Meritless Health Care Lawsuits And Generate More In Legal Fees
Measure would balloon MICRA's cap on speculative, non-economic damages from $250,000 to more than $1.2 Million
SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Doctors, hospitals, nurses, community clinics, local governments, labor unions, police, emergency responders, employer groups and others today denounced a trial lawyer-sponsored ballot measure filed Wednesday that will make it easier and more lucrative for lawyers to file lawsuits against health care providers and generate more in legal fees. The initiative's main provision makes changes to California's landmark Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) to increase the cap on speculative, "non-economic" damages from the current $250,000 to more than $1.2 million (based on an adjustment mandated in the initiative). Filing a ballot measure is just the first in a long series of steps needed to qualify a measure for the November 2014 ballot. While trial lawyers have failed to follow through on many similar threats in the past, if they actually go forward and qualify the measure, a coalition of doctors, hospitals, nurses, community clinics, local governments, labor unions, police, emergency responders, employer groups and others vowed to wage a significant campaign to expose the lawyers' self-serving agenda and to defeat the measure. MICRA governs legal proceedings and lawsuit payouts when someone is injured in a medical procedure. The measure filed includes other provisions serving as "window dressing" relating to drug testing and prescription drugs. But make no mistake, the main purpose is to change MICRA to make it easier and more lucrative for lawyers to file lawsuits against doctors, hospitals, community clinics, and other health care providers, and generate big paydays for themselves. The measure would increase costs for consumers by billions of dollars per year while reducing patient access to health care providers. "The measure filed today is nothing more than a self-serving attempt by trial lawyers to generate more in legal fees," said Paul R. Phinney, M.D., President, California Medical Association. "More meritless lawsuits against health care providers do nothing to improve health care quality. They only enrich lawyers at everyone else's expense." Phinney pointed to recent polling which found that 59% of voters support MICRA, with 30% "strongly" in support.