protecting california’s most vulnerable populations
California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) ensures injured patients receive fair compensation while preserving access to health care by keeping doctors, nurses and health care providers in practice and hospitals and clinics open. In 2014, California voters definitively rejected an attempt to quadruple MICRA’s non-economic damages cap. Weakening MICRA’s intent or protections will increase health care costs and reduce access to health care services, especially among those who need it most.
LOW INCOME PATIENTS WOULD SUFFER MOST
Weakening MICRA’s protections and increasing health care costs will reduce resources for Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal which provide health care for California’s most vulnerable patients.
FEWER OBSTETRIC PROVIDERS
Any weakening of MICRA’s intent will worsen an already critical situation in obstetric care where the supply of physicians and health care providers is limited, but the demand is growing.
With fewer obstetric providers, women’s access to early prenatal care will be reduced. Although California has one of the country’s lowest infant mortality rates, providers’ ability to maintain this standard will be threatened if additional stress is placed on our maternal health care system.
CUTBACKS TO COMMUNITY CLINICS, HEALTH CENTERS AND PUBLIC HOSPITALS
California safety-net providers serve millions of uninsured patients, the majority of whom are women and children. Unable to shift higher insurance costs to their patients, community clinics and health centers will have no alternative but to reduce services, staff, operating hours or services offered.
Additionally, undermining MICRA will jeopardize access to care for low-income patients who receive care from county and UC health systems that are self- insured, as these providers would have to redirect funds from patient care to pay for increased medical liability costs.
CRISIS FOR RURAL PATIENTS
Those in underserved rural areas will be particularly hard hit by any further loss of health care providers. The economic viability of doctors practicing in these areas is already marginal due to sparse population and low insurance and Medi-Cal reimbursement for services. An increase in malpractice insurance costs will force many rural physicians to cut back on services or close their doors – further isolating rural patients.
REDUCED ACCESS TO HIV/AIDS SPECIALISTS
Any weakening of MICRA’s protections will make it difficult for HIV/AIDS patients to find the specialists they need for treatment. Early access to care, especially within the first 12 months, is critical. According to 2014 estimates by the California Department of Public Health Office of AIDS, California has more than 74,000 AIDS patients. If physicians are not able to afford liability insurance to practice in California, many of these patients may be unable to find the appropriate care.
PREVENTATIVE HEALTH CARE
Undermining MICRA’s intent will also reduce access to routine health care, including regular screenings for high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and other serious health risks.