U.S. Lawmakers Look To California Malpractice Law as Option for Nation

As President Obama and Congress continue to hammer out various health care reform proposals, some policymakers are considering whether California's medical malpractice regulations offer a model for reform, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

California's Legislature passed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA, in 1975.

The law imposes a $250,000 cap on the amount plaintiffs can receive in non-economic damages for "pain and suffering." It does not limit the amount plaintiffs can seek for other costs such as lost wages, medical expenses and punitive damages.

California as a Model...

Many physicians and malpractice insurance companies say MICRA could be a national model because it has:

  • Curbed high malpractice insurance costs;
  • Encouraged physicians to continue practicing in California; and
  • Prevented juries from awarding excessive damages.

Californians Allied for Patient Protection, a pro-MICRA group, says increasing the cap to $500,000 would increase California's health care costs by $7.9 billion per year.

Or a Cautionary Tale?

On the other hand, many consumer groups and trial attorneys say the law has hindered justice for injured patients and their families.

Critics note that lawmakers have not adjusted the $250,000 cap for inflation during the past 34 years.

Some families who cannot claim economic losses also might have difficulty finding an attorney to take their case, critics say (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/21).


jim OHare
docs dont get peers, you know, similiar rank and station in society. Arbitration fixes this as well. - How about structuring payouts, lets say everything over 250k. - How about all Docs need PL insurance to practice. Just like we all need car insurance to drive? This puts more money in the pool, bringing down premiums. - mandatory mediation at close of discovery, if arbitration cant be reasoned. - have a sliding scale of contingency fees. - re examine vicarious liability, agency etc. just a start regards jim
jim OHare
This is just TOO easy to fix. I have been doing med mal claims since 85. Address the following issues for the good of all. Ready? Wait – those that make big dollars from this industry may object. -Maybe arbitration? Dont dismiss it, it could work. Re meaningful reform : – get rid of joint and several, as those with insurance pay for those that do not. – loser pays the costs of the winner. Why not? creates frugality, stimulates settlement.. – expert affidavits prior to every suit = integrity. – a frivelous suit statute.If it is BS skip it. – Cap only pain and suffering, the amount can be debated. Neither side can argue what is too much or too little. It is a subjective concept with no objective ruler. There is no scale for pain. Money is a poor ruler. – how about one expert per defendant for each side to handle liability, causation and damages. Save big money right there. I just paid one 18k!! – How about examining the definition of “peer”, look

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