September 18, 2013
California’s legislative session officially wrapped up last week, and because of aggressive advocacy by the California Medical Association (CMA) and action taken by thousands of California physicians, a bill to scuttle the state’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) was never introduced.
Despite weeks of pandering to members of the Legislature, California’s trial lawyers, along with their front group Consumer Watchdog, were unable to find enough legislators to vote for their greedy and misguided effort at lifting MICRA’s historic protections for their own financial gain. A majority of the Legislature sees value in the protections offered to both patients and physicians through MICRA, and would be willing to cast a vote to defend the act if necessary. The lack of an anti-MICRA bill in the final days of session is evidence that the trial lawyers knew they were defeated before a bill could even be introduced. However, we know the trial lawyers will be back and with over 50 percent of the members of the Legislature changing in next two election cycles, we must remain vigilant.
Make no mistake – the threat in the Capitol was very real.
Nearly every day following the Legislature’s return from its summer recess, representatives from Consumer Watchdog were canvassing members’ offices with literature outlining arguments against MICRA. At the same time, the Consumer Attorneys of California were hosting luncheons with legislative staffers, hoping to find enough legislators to support an anti-MICRA bill.
Fortunately, due to the vocal response from California physicians, along with our allies in the growing coalition to protect MICRA, an overwhelming majority of lawmakers were willing to stand up and protect the act, if needed, and trial attorneys were not willing to risk an embarrassing failed vote.
While victory in the Legislature is an important step, the fight to defend MICRA is far from over.
As expected, trial lawyers are moving forward with their plans to place an anti-MICRA initiative on the ballot and have continued to run a public relations campaign designed to mislead voters into believing that MICRA actually harms patients, rather than assures they have access to quality and affordable care.
With their efforts in the Legislature having failed, trial lawyers will likely ramp up their misinformation campaign, understanding that a public vote will likely be the only way they can undo MICRA’s protections.
California physicians cannot allow this to happen.
As trial lawyers work through the process of placing their proposed initiative on the ballot, MICRA will undoubtedly receive more attention in the media. CMA and our allies in the MICRA fight will be working to make sure the truth is told about how MICRA benefits California’s patients and physicians, but we need your voice as well. Talk to your patients, friends and families about what health care in California would look like if predatory trial lawyers were allowed to use malpractice lawsuits as a way to drum up earnings at the expense of patients and physicians.
Last week, a battle was won, but the fight is far from over. We will need your continued support if we are to be successful in this fight.
CLICK HERE to defend your ability to practice in California.
For more information on MICRA and how you can help, visit the MICRA Resource Center.