Malpractice initiative on Nov. ballot; CDA, coalition to wage fight

CDA and a coalition of health care organizations are gearing up to defeat a November ballot initiative that would raise a malpractice cap on non-economic damages, resulting in devastating effects on California’s health care system.

The trial-lawyer sponsored measure, which garnered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, would quadruple the cap set by California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) by increasing it to $1.1 million. The measure would raise healthcare costs by billions of dollars annually and reduce access to care while allowing lawyers to make more in legal fees.

The trial-lawyers’ initiative is titled “The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act,” which contains additional provisions regarding drug testing of doctors and places infeasible requirements on the state’s prescription drug database.

During the 1970s, a medical malpractice insurance crisis led to the passage of MICRA, which ensures injured patients receive fair compensation while stabilizing liability costs and protecting health care providers, including dentists, from extreme liability exposure and skyrocketing premiums. A $250,000 cap on speculative, noneconomic damage awards reduced the incentives by trial lawyers to file meritless lawsuits. Under MICRA, patients receive unlimited compensation for all economic damages or out-of-pocket costs. Wages, medical costs and punitive damages are all paid on an unlimited basis and these payments are going up at more than twice the rate of inflation.

In response to members’ needs, CDA created TDIC, The Dentists Insurance Company, so dentists would not be at the mercy of soaring annual premiums due to litigation of claims and huge monetary awards.

CDA and a coalition that includes physicians, hospitals, community clinics, business groups, civil liberties groups, and local governments are committed to a statewide campaign, Stop Higher Health Care Costs, which will work to educate voters on why it is important to defeat this ballot initiative.

For more on how you can help the campaign, visit www.stophigherhealthcarecosts.com.