MALPRACTICE CAP: Villaraigosa Says He Will Lift Limit
Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles) announced yesterday that he plans to introduce legislation to lift the state's 23-year-old $250,000 cap on malpractice awards. The Sacramento Bee reports that while Villaraigosa "would not specify the level to which he wants to raise the" limit, he said that "some adjustment is needed because of increases in the cost of living over two decades." Assemblyman Dick Ackerman (R-Fullerton) contended that raising the cap would cause people to lose health coverage. "All the insurers, all of the medical community have indicated that premiums would go up, and that would impact the low-income people more than the high- income people," he said. And Fred Hiestand of the Californians Allied for Patient Protections, a coalition of doctors, medical schools, hospitals and the state Chamber of Congress, said, "You can't increase access to health care by increasing the amount of non-economic damages that health care providers have to pay out." Both Ackerman and Hiestand accused the speaker of catering to trial lawyers. Mark Robinson, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, said other states' moves to change malpractice caps have "not significantly affected the cost of health care or restricted access by the poor." Robinson noted that the current malpractice award system disproportionately harms the poor because "those who earn less are not awarded as much in lost wages" (Hoge, 2/10). Click malpractice cap for previous coverage of this issue.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.