In the past few weeks, you might have noticed our social network updates focusing on the battle to reform California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). Since 1975 in California, noneconomic damages in medical malpractice claims have been capped at $250,000 thanks to MICRA. This amount may have seemed extraordinary at the time of the bill’s inception into California state law, but almost forty years have passed and lawmakers have yet to adjust the cap to account for inflation.
MICRA was originally intended to lower medical malpractice liability insurance premiums for California health care providers1. It claimed to make healthcare more available to patients and lower the cost of services. Patients were supposed to pay less for more medical options and feel safe and secure in California hospitals. In reality, medical malpractice has become more prevalent than ever due to the protection provided for negligent practitioners under MICRA2, and victims are ‘compensated’ with an outdated and unfair cap on damages endured.
The current cap is also in violation of patients’ constitutional rights. The victims of medical malpractice who take their case to court lose the right to have damages determined by a jury. Even in the event of a jury awarding a victim up to six million dollars in noneconomic losses, MICRA caps those damages at $250,0003.
If legislators accounted for inflation since 1975, today’s MICRA cap would exceed one million dollars. Victims and the families of those lost to medical malpractice want to see this outdated act changed, and encourage you to speak out today. Thirty-eight years will be too long to watch malpractice rates rise while the MICRA cap sits stagnant.