MICRA battle heads to ballot

California voters will decide in November whether to raise the decades-old, $250,000 cap on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The secretary of state’s office announced that the ballot initiative, which also calls for drug and alcohol testing for doctors, will join four other measures that already have qualified for the ballot.

The initiative, backed by Consumer Watchdog, would increase the cap to account for inflation. The original cap, part of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA, has not been changed since it was approved in 1975, when it was signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. In today’s dollars, the cap would be about $1.06 million, according to

The political dispute over raising the MICRA cap has been a familiar one in Sacramento for many years, pitting attorneys who represent patients against insurers and doctors. A detailed look at the issue can be seen here.

The four other measures on the ballot are:

–An $11.1 billion water bond, which is in the midst of negotiations to reduce its size.

–An effort to regulate heath care insurance rates through the Department of Insurance

–A referendum to overturn a pair of tribal compacts, that include halting a tribal casino near Madera

–A budget reserve plan for a “rainy day fund,” newly approved by lawmakers, which replace another budget-proposal on the ballot that was negotiated during the Schwarzenegger administration.

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