CHA strongly supports the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975. MICRA was enacted in response to a medical malpractice insurance crisis that threatened California’s health care system. As then-Gov. Jerry Brown explained in his proclamation calling a special session of the Legislature to address the crisis, “The cost of medical malpractice insurance has risen to levels which many physicians and surgeons find intolerable. The inability of doctors to obtain insurance at reasonable rates is endangering the health of the people of this State, and threatens the closing of many hospitals.”

MICRA reflects a strong public policy to contain the costs of malpractice insurance, thereby maximizing the availability of medical services to meet the state’s health care needs. MICRA provisions:

  • Limit contingent attorney fees.
  • Allow the introduction of evidence of collateral source payments.
  • Preclude subrogation by collateral sources.
  • Limit recovery of noneconomic damages to $250,000 (no limit on recovery of economic damages).
  • Shorten the statute of limitations.
  • Require a 90-day notice of intent to sue.
  • Allow periodic payment of future damages.
  • Encourage and facilitate arbitration.

California trial lawyers have long wanted to raise the $250,000 cap on noneconomic damage awards and to loosen the limits on contingent attorney fees. CHA remains strongly opposed to these ideas. A higher cap and bigger fees for lawyers would lead to an unacceptable increase in public and private expenditures for health care.

CHA is a member of Californians Allied for Patient Protection, a coalition dedicated to protecting MICRA. In addition, CHA is a member of a different coalition of health care providers and insurers that monitors appellate court cases related to MICRA and files amicus briefs in support of MICRA’s many provisions.

For more information see CHA’s 2008 Health Policy Legislative Day Background Paper on MICRA.