MICRA – Do Proponents Really Understand It?
A little while ago, I was at an event where an informal question and answer session was being conducted between two candidates for Assembly. One of the topics that stirred up a lively conversation was California’s Malpractice Injury and Compensation Reform Act of 1975(MICRA). When asked whether there should remain a $250,000 cap on pain and suffering in medical malpractice claims, one of the candidates said yes but that the cap should be raised. This response made little sense to me. Besides the fact that a number of sources have reported, that the main purpose of MICRA, which was to reduce healthcare costs, has been unsuccessful for 30 years, I don’t understand how raising the cap would achieve that goal any faster. If this candidate believed that there needs to be caps in order to keep healthcare costs down, then I don’t see how raising the caps would help. In other words, if the costs are down, which they are not, then why fix what isn’t broken. If the costs are high and we still need the cap to lower healthcare costs, then how would raising the cap lower costs when the existing cap did nothing to lower the costs for over 30 years?
It worried me that someone, who was educated, intelligent, and running for office, did not see the flaws in their understanding of MICRA. That they believed that the answer to this ongoing debate was to simply “raise” the cap, with no real thought as to what exactly the implications of that may be, if any. The bottom line is that more and more attorneys are unable to take malpractice claims for financial reasons, insurers reap the benefits of less and less lawsuits, and healthcare costs continue to rise so it seems that the ones who continue to be hurt by this Act are the very people whom the Act was intended to protect, the injured consumers.