With a 66 - 0 vote, AB 35 now moves to Governor’s desk
Sacramento - Today, in a momentous vote, the Assembly passed AB 35 (Reyes, Umberg) 66 to 0. The bill, which modernizes California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), will now move to the Governor’s desk for signature.
“Today’s vote confirms the broad based support for the compromise reached on MICRA,” said Lisa Maas, Executive Director of Californians Allied for Patient Protection. “This bill will help to ensure health care providers can keep their doors open while also balancing the financial needs of patients with health care related injuries. We applaud the work of the Assembly for their commitment to move this bill to Governor Newsom.”
The bill passed out of the Senate last week with a nearly unanimous vote.
“For nearly 50 years MICRA closed the door to justice for patients injured by medical negligence,” said Nick Rowley, author and principal funder of the Fairness for Injured Patients Act. “This agreement makes the law better and will help injured patients have better access to the courts and increase accountability in health care. The legislative resolution we reached ends a decades long political fight that pitted patients and families against insurance companies. Solving our most protracted problems requires us to listen to each other and keep an open mind. That’s what happened here, and is an example hope others will follow.”
“The Assembly's passage of this historic compromise affirms the important principle that injured patients deserve to be fairly compensated when they have been harmed by medical negligence,” said Craig M. Peters, President of the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC). “CAOC is grateful for the determined efforts of injured patients and their families, who have fought against MICRA and have been the spearhead of the fifty-year fight to restore access to justice.”
After decades of political debate, this updated framework will extend the long-term predictability and affordability of medical liability protections for those providing medical care in California while providing a fair and reasonable increase to limits on non-economic damages for medical negligence beginning January 1, 2023, with gradual increases thereafter.
The legislation will most notably adjust MICRA’s cap on non-economic damages, which is currently limited to $250,000. This new law will increase the existing limit to $350,000 for non-death cases and $500,000 for wrongful death cases on the effective date January 1, 2023, followed by incremental increases over 10 years to $750,000 for non-death cases and $1,000,000 for wrongful death cases, after which a 2.0% annual inflationary adjustment will apply.
The proposal will also create three separate categories of caps, which could apply depending on the facts of each case. Additionally, a health care provider or health care institution can only be held liable for damages under one category regardless of how the categories are applied or combined. The new categories include:
Proponents of the measure will have it removed from the ballot in advance of the June 28, 2022 deadline.