MICRA provision upheld by courts

A recent court ruling has upheld a provision of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) that protects dentists and other health care providers from frivolous lawsuits. The decision is consistent with other court rulings that have struck down challenges to MICRA, which ensures injured patients receive fair compensation and stabilizes liability costs.

California’s 1st District Court of Appeal held that MICRA’s $250,000 cap on noneconomic damage awards is not unconstitutional, striking down a challenge by a plaintiff who sued her physician for malpractice and claimed the cap violated her constitutional rights to equal protection, due process and trial by jury.

CDA and a coalition of health care providers filed an amicus (“friends of the court”) brief last year that supported the constitutionality of MICRA’s noneconomic damages cap. Since MICRA became law in 1975, the courts have upheld provisions that have come under attack by trial attorneys in various lawsuits.

Last year, CDA, TDIC and a broad coalition of organizations led an effort to defeat Proposition 46, a trial attorney-backed initiative that would have raised the non-economic damages cap, resulting in increased health care costs and reduced access to care. CDA and TDIC will continue to work with coalition partners to preserve MICRA and defeat challenges brought on by trial attorneys.

More information on MICRA can be found on cda.org.

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CDA and a coalition of more than 600 organizations helped defeat Proposition 46 in last year’s election, but a piece of the ballot measure has reappeared in the form of a new bill. CDA-opposed SB 482, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), revisits a provision included in Proposition 46 last year dealing with the state’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System  (CURES) online prescription drug database.

Last week, the California Supreme Court sent a clear message that it will not be accepting arguments on the constitutionality of MICRA’s non-economic damages cap at this time. This is very good news for CDA and other members of a statewide coalition that played a significant role in the November defeat of Proposition 46, an attempt to significantly increase the $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

California voters overwhelmingly defeated Proposition 46 in the November 4th general election, a ballot measure that would have dramatically increased health care costs and reduced patients' access to care by raising the payouts in lawsuits against dentists and other health care providers.