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Gov. Newsom Signs Legislation to Modernize California’s Medical Malpractice System

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On May 23, Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 35, legislation that will modernize the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act’s (MICRA) cap on non-economic damages while still maintaining important medical liability protections.  

This important legislation will also create a structure to fairly compensate patients who have been injured during the course of medical care and help protect access to care for all.  

Since becoming law in 1975, MICRA has been the subject of extensive disputes in the courts, in the state Legislature, and through the ballot measure process (most recently Proposition 46 in 2014), largely over the law’s $250,000 limit on non-economic damages in malpractice cases. CHA has been part of a coalition of stakeholders that has fought to protect the MICRA framework, unchanged for nearly 50 years. This new law maintains this important framework, focusing only on the caps.  

It will increase the existing limit to $350,000 for non-death cases and $500,000 for wrongful death cases on the effective date Jan. 1, 2023, followed by incremental increases over 10 years to $750,000 for non-death cases and $1 million for wrongful death cases, after which a 2% annual inflationary adjustment would apply. In addition, there will be three separate categories of caps that could apply, depending on the facts of each case. A health care provider or health care institution could only be held liable for damages under one category, regardless of how the categories are applied or combined.  

An on-demand recording is available from CHA that explains the details of the new law, as well as the actions hospitals should take to prepare for the changes.