still the national model

Prior to California’s landmark Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), the state was facing a crisis. Out-of-control medical liability costs were forcing community clinics, health centers, doctors, OBGYNs and other health care providers out of practice. As they lost access to affordable health care, many California patients suffered, especially women and those in rural areas.

Because MICRA protects access to health care, California now has some of the lowest malpractice premiums in the United States and the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) hail it as a “model.”

“It is reliably estimated by entities as diverse as the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Milliman and Robertson, the Florida Governor’s Select Task Force on Healthcare Professional Liability Insurance, and the American Academy of Actuaries that passage of reforms similar to MICRA in states currently lacking such statutes would result in premium savings of 25 to 30 percent annually.”

Yale Journal Case Study 2004,
“Effective Legal Reform and the Malpractice Insurance Crisis”

Other states are not so lucky. In 2004, the AMA identified 20 states as being in “a full-blown medical liability crisis.” It further described that in these states “patients continue to lose access to care… obstetricians and rural family physicians no longer deliver babies… (and) high-risk specialists no longer provide trauma care or perform complicated surgical procedures.”

In New York, a state without reforms, 19 counties are without obstetricians, 22 are without internal medicine specialists and 15 do not have surgical specialty doctors, according to a 2010 study by The Center for Health Workforce Studies. According to a July 2012 story in the New York Times, several hospitals in New York City are partially or completely without liability insurance due to the high cost of liability premiums.