CDA, partners fight malpractice initiative

CDA and partners in the coalition, Californians Allied for Patient Protection (CAPP), are preparing for a year-long battle to defeat an effort by trial attorneys to change a provision of a law that protects dentists and other health care providers from frivolous lawsuits.

Trial lawyers have launched a campaign to collect signatures to qualify their initiative, “The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act,” for the November 2014 ballot. The measure, as it reads on the ballot, would require alcohol and drug testing for doctors, among other things, but that is only window dressing to camouflage its true purpose — to change provisions of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). The measure would raise a cap on non-economic damages from $250,000 to $1.1 million, which would increase health care costs, reduce access to care and allow trial lawyers to make more in legal fees.

“Preserving MICRA is a critical issue for our members,” said CDA President James Stephens, DDS. “In the 1970s, before MICRA became law, skyrocketing premiums and outrageous monetary awards were driving practitioners out of California and impacting access to care for patients.”

MICRA ensures injured patients receive fair compensation, while stabilizing liability costs. Since 1974, when a medical malpractice insurance crisis led to MICRA’s passage, health care providers, including dentists have been protected from extreme liability exposure and skyrocketing premiums by its various provisions, including the $250,000 cap on speculative noneconomic damage awards. The cap reduced incentives by trial lawyers to file meritless lawsuits that drive up health care costs.

The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that lifting the MICRA cap would cost local governments and the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually that are currently spent on public safety, protecting the health care safety net and clinical care.

The CAPP coalition has established a campaign committee, which has more than $30 million in the bank
to fight the initiative if it ends up on the ballot with additional commitments in the tens of millions.

For more information type “MICRA” in the search box on cda.org.