MICRA Background Brief

The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act [MICRA] cap places restrictions on victims’ recovery of non-economic damages. Established in 1975, MICRA’s $250,000 ceiling in 1975 is currently worth $61,383. In today’s dollars victims would need $1,018,201 to equal $250,000 in 1975 dollars. MICRA is particularly egregious to stay-at-home parents, low wage earners, the elderly, and children since these groups can not demonstrate economic losses.

The MICRA cap cuts off access to justice in meritorious medical malpractice cases and most severely affects the catastrophically injured, as the RAND Institute for Civil Justice found in a 2004 study.

MICRA clearly interferes with the constitutional right to a trial by jury by replacing a jury verdict based on the evidence in the case with an arbitrary one-size-fits-all limit in certain serious cases.

MICRA also denies due process and irrationally treats people differently, limiting compensation to the most severely injured, in violation of the equal protection guarantee for all Americans – a right established in the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth (14th) Amendment.

California’s MICRA should not be used as a model for the nation. It did not reduce insurance premiums, it did not make health care more available, and it did not stop doctors from quitting their practices or leaving the state.