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Letter to the Editor
2012-11-21 11:28:10 AM
Any changes to the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act sponsored by trial lawyers and their trade group, Consumer Attorneys of California, can mean only one thing: another attempt to change MICRA to make it easier for trial lawyers to file lawsuits against health care providers in California ("Stars Aligning for MICRA Reform?", Nov. 16). At a time when we should be doing all we can to rein in costs, this change would have the opposite effect and would increase health care costs in California by billions.
MICRA ensures injured patients are protected and fairly compensated, while also limiting frivolous lawsuits. Under MICRA, all economic costs (out-of-pocket costs, lost wages, medical care) are covered on an unlimited basis. Punitive damages, too, are unlimited. And MICRA provides for up to $250,000 in non-economic damages, pain and suffering damages.
Californians Allied for Patient Protection, or CAPP, is a broad coalition of MICRA supporters including physicians, hospitals, community clinics, nurses, dentists, local governments, businesses and others.
The reasonable $250,000 cap on non-economic damages is an effective way of limiting meritless lawsuits and keeping health care costs lower, but has been targeted by trial lawyers because it restricts the amount of money they can collect in damage awards.
CAPP members strongly oppose the change trial lawyers want to quadruple the $250,000 in non-economic damages cap, thus making it easier and more lucrative to file lawsuits. If trial lawyers are successful, health care costs will increase dramatically, medical liability rates will go up, and access to health care providers will diminish. In fact, a recent study found that doubling MICRA's cap on non-economic damages would add more than $9 billion annually to the cost of health care in California.
More lawsuits do nothing to improve health care. They only enrich lawyers at the expense of everyone else who will pay higher costs and will have reduced access to health care services.
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