A ballot measure fight over California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) now appears inevitable after Consumer Watchdog (a trial lawyer front group) submitted more than 800,000 signatures to county elections officials Monday to qualify their anti-MICRA initiative for the November ballot. Slightly more than 500,000 valid signatures are needed for the measure to qualify. The signatures will be verified over the next several weeks.
MICRA ensures injured patients receive fair compensation while stabilizing liability costs. The trial lawyers' ballot measure would more than quadruple MICRA's cap on non-economic damages, raising it to $1.1 million. This would have devastating effects on California's healthcare system, increasing costs by billions of dollars annually and reducing access to care while allowing lawyers to make more in legal fees. An analysis by the state's independent Legislative Analyst says the measure could also increase costs by "hundreds of millions of dollars annually" for the state and local governments.
The initiative also contains provisions regarding drug testing of physicians and places infeasible requirements on the state's prescription drug database, which proponents have said were only included in the measure because they polled well and are the "ultimate sweetener."
The submission of signatures was expected. CDA and a coalition that includes doctors, hospitals, community clinics, business groups, civil liberties groups, local governments and others are fully prepared to do what it takes to defeat this initiative.
For more information about efforts to defeat this measure, go to www.stophigherhealthcarecosts.com.