Campaign To Revisit Medical Malpractice Cap Heats Up

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A recent survey of California voters shows 55 percent think the $250,000 cap on non-economic damages a patient can collect due to doctor malpractice is “too high or about right.”

One in three think the cap is too low or there should be no limit, according to a phone survey of 802 randomly selected registered voters in California likely to cast their ballots in the November 2014 election.

Trial attorneys and Consumer Watchdog have mounted a campaign to qualify a ballot initiative to lift the cap on damages for pain and suffering under California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act — better known as MICRA. The law was enacted in 1975, and the cap has never been raised to reflect current costs.

Growing numbers of attorneys decline medical malpractice cases because they are too time-intensive and costly when the payoff for clients — and lawyers — is so low.

Eighteen months before the election, the issue already is heated. Proponents have kicked off an aggressive advertising campaign with billboards and stories of injured patients.

Doctors and others are fiercely protective of the law they say offers patients protection but keeps malpractice rates in check.

The poll was conducted in early June by the California public policy research firm FM3 for Californians Allied for Patient Protection, a coalition of organizations representing doctors, hospitals, emergency personnel, local governments and others.

Kathy Robertson covers health care, law and lobbying, labor, workplace issues and immigration for the Sacramento Business Journal.

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