May 03, 2022
California Medical Association (CMA) President Robert E. Wailes testified today in the California Senate Judiciary Committee in support of AB 35— jointly authored by Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Reyes and Senator Tom Umberg—which will implement the historic agreement reached by Californians Allied for Patient Protection (CAPP) and the Consumer Attorneys of California to modernize the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). The modernized framework, which unanimously passed out of the committee, will ensure that health care is accessible and affordable, while balancing compensatory justice for injured patients
“This MICRA Modernization legislation is an important compromise that will extend the long-term predictability and affordability of medical liability insurance, while providing fair compensation to injured patients,” Dr. Wailes told the committee.
Over the years, California’s physician and provider communities have repeatedly defended MICRA through expensive battles at the ballot, in the courtroom and in the legislature. This year, with the so-called Fairness for Injured Patients Act (FIPA) slated for the November 2022 ballot, we were again facing another costly initiative battle that could have obliterated existing safeguards against out-of-control medical lawsuits and resulted in skyrocketing health care costs.
Under this groundbreaking policy, the rights of patients will be protected, and the essential guardrails established under MICRA that ensure broad based access to care remain firmly in place for patients and providers alike.
The modernized framework also establishes new protections for benevolent gestures and statements of fault. AB 35 establishes new evidentiary protection for all pre-litigation expressions of sympathy, regret or benevolence, including statements of fault, by a health care provider.
“This will make it possible for physicians and patients to have a full and open conversation after an unforeseen outcome and will lead to greater accountability, patient safety and trust,” said Dr. Wailes. “Often, a patient’s decision to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is triggered by a failure in communication, not negligence, and this bill will facilitate the important conversations patients and providers want to have.”
The proposal reflected in this legislation strikes a prudent and patient-focused balance between fair compensation to injured patients and the need for universal, high-quality, and cost-effective health care. More significantly, in the shadow of the most sweeping public health crisis in a century, it demonstrates a unifying willingness to put the interests of California patients ahead of divisive political positions.
For more information, see cmadocs.org/micra2022.