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NYCU May 24, 2022

SDCMS News You Can Use
TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2022

Paul HegyiPHYSICIANS: The Governor yesterday signed the historic MICRA Modernization Law. This is the first significant revision to MICRA in decades and is a win for physicians and their patients. It prevents a potential hindrance on access to health care for Californians. San Diego’s own Robert E. Wailes, California Medical Association President issued a letter to members after the signing of the MICRA Modernization Law. Dr. Wailes states:

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 35 (MICRA Modernization) into law, and in doing so finalized an achievement few thought was possible. Californians Allied for Patient Protection (CAPP), the Consumer Attorneys of California, Nick Rowley — author and primary funder of the November ballot measure — and both sides of the looming initiative fight over the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) worked together with the Legislature and Gov. Newsom to end a decades–long political battle and usher in a new era of stability around malpractice liability.

The Governor’s action followed a bipartisan and nearly unanimous vote by the state Legislature, demonstrating broad support for this new approach. As part of the landmark agreement reflected in AB 35, proponents of the so–called Fairness for Injured Patients Act (FIPA) have removed the initiative from the November ballot.

Since California’s landmark medical malpractice laws were enacted almost 50 years ago, they have successfully struck a balance between compensatory justice for injured patients while maintaining an overall health care system that is accessible and affordable for Californians.

During that time, California’s physician and provider communities, through CAPP, have defended MICRA through expensive battles at the ballot, in the courtroom and in the legislature. CAPP is the large and diverse coalition working to protect access to health care through MICRA. Its membership includes the California Medical Association (CMA), California Hospital Association, California Dental Association, CMA’s component medical societies, medical malpractice insurance carriers, community clinics, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and many more.

This year, we were again facing another costly initiative battle that would have obliterated existing safeguards for out–of–control medical lawsuits and would have resulted in skyrocketing health care costs.

Instead, the two sides of the ballot measure campaign put differences aside, found common ground, and recognized a rare opportunity to protect both our health care delivery system and the rights of injured patients. The result is an agreement that puts patients first and prioritizes the stability of affordable access to health care.

Under the modernized MICRA law reflected in AB 35, which will go into effect on January 1, 2023, the underlying principles of MICRA were preserved — ensuring access to care and protecting our health care delivery system from runaway costs. Important guardrails of MICRA will continue unchanged, including advance notice of a claim, the one–year statute of limitations to file a case, the option of binding arbitration, early offer of proof for making punitive damage allegations and allowing other sources of compensation to be considered in award determinations. Furthermore, a new provision has been added to the law that protects expression of sympathy by a health care provider to an injured patient and their family, allowing physicians to express empathy, benevolence and even statements of fault after an unforeseen outcome without fear that such statements or gestures will be used against them.

The element that has garnered the most interest surrounds changes to the limit on non–economic damages in medical malpractice cases, which has been $250k since 1975. As opposed to the ballot measure, which would have effectively eliminated the cap on non-economic damages entirely, under the agreement:

Cases not involving a patient death will have a limit of $350k on the effective date of January 1, 2023, with an incremental increase over the next 10 years to $750k and a 2.0% annual inflationary adjustment thereafter
Cases involving a patient death will have a limit of $500k on the effective date of January 1, 2023, with an incremental increase over the next 10 years to $1 million and a 2.0% annual inflationary adjustment thereafter

Other critical MICRA guardrails that will remain in place with modest updates include the ability to pay awards of future damages over time and limits on plaintiff’s attorney’s contingency fees. CMA has prepared a publicly available fact sheet that provides additional details on this important legislation, available at cmadocs.org/micra.

CMA and the provider community remain united and committed to the principle of high–quality health care that is accessible and affordable to all Californians. For decades, we accomplished those goals in part by focusing our political resources on protecting MICRA against regular attacks. By creating long–term stability around MICRA, we can shift our focus, political influence, and resources to affect other positive changes for physician practices and improve access to care and public health for all Californians.

California Medical Association and San Diego County Medical Society can count the MICRA Modernization Law as another win for the physician community in what has been an incredibly challenging couple of years. CMA and SDCMS are proud that we are able to continue to make a major positive difference for California’s physicians and their patients on issue after issue.

As always, let me know if you have any questions! Paul Hegyi, CEO

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First Republic Bank
MAY 25, 2022: 12:15–1:15pm, FREE Webinar ‘Thrive, Not Survive: Why Committing to an ACO Helps Your Primary Care Organization Thrive’. The national shift from a fee–for–service system to one based on value is speeding up, leading independent primary care practices, clinics and community health centers to explore joining an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). This webinar Reviews the physician–led ACO model; Examines the three most common concerns about joining an ACO; Understands the benefits of physician–led ACO participation to patients, staff, physicians and practices; and Discusses the experiences of primary care physicians who have joined a physician–led ACO. Sponsored by California Medical Association  CLICK HERE
JUN 3, 2022: 6–10pm, SDCMS’ 2022 Rendezvous Gala, at The Abbey on Fifth. We welcome Toluwalase (Lase) Ajayi, MD as incoming SDCMS President for 2022–23, and thank Sergio R. Flores, MD for his service as Immediate Past President. Join Hundreds of Physicians, Distinguished Guests, and Local, State and National Legislators For the Installation of Our Incoming President. $150 Per Ticket and $1,400 for a Table of 10  CLICK HERE
JUN 24, 2022: 9am–4pm, Webinar ‘Annual CMA CME Conference: Leveling Up’ for accredited CME providers only. Provides valuable strategies and insight to improving your CME program, as well as provides an opportunity to connect with ACCME, CMA CME staff, and other CMA–accredited providers. Registration is $150. Sponsored by CMA  CLICK HERE
JUL 12, 2022: 12–1pm, Free Webinar ‘Virtual Grand Rounds: COVID–19 Clinical Udpates’. Sponsored by California Medical Association and CA Health & Human Services Agency in partnership with Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California and California Academy for PAs. 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credit Available. Free to Members and Non–Members.  CLICK HERE
AKW Medical
CMA in the Courts  READ HERE
Podcast ‘What the Health?’ Waking Up to Baby Formula Shortage  LISTEN HERE
CMA Webinar: Telehealth Reimbursement and Privacy Laws: COVID–19 Emergency  WATCH HERE
CMA Webinar: What is Value–Based Care and What Does it Mean for My Practice?  WATCH HERE
SDCMS Webinar: Best Practice: Documenting Disruptive Patient Behavior  WATCH HERE
SDCMS Webinar: Understanding Malpractice Risks for NPs, PAs, and Supervising Physicians  WATCH HERE
SDCMS Webinar: COVID–19 for the Long Haul: Post COVID Recovery and Care  WATCH HERE
SDCMS Webinar: How to Avoid Being Reported to the Medical Board  WATCH HERE
SDCMS Webinar: Understanding the Risks: How to Dismiss a Patient from Your Practice  WATCH HERE
SDCMS Webinar: Physician Wellness  WATCH HERE
SDCMS Webinar: Biosimilars Overview & Policy Landscape  WATCH HERE
Alzheimer’s Project Clinical Roundtable Free On–Demand CME Webinar Series on Dementia  WATCH HERE
SDCMS' 152nd White Coat Gala Rendezvous

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