On the Campaign Trail for No on Prop. 46

by
  • Yost, Paul, MD
| Oct 20, 2014

First thank you!! to all of our members who have generously supported GASPAC (our California PAC) and the fight to defeat Proposition 46. The response from all of you has been wonderful.

I want to give you an update on the campaign against Proposition 46 that will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, and share some highlights from the trenches as we work hard in these final weeks to spread the word to vote NO on 46!

In case you haven't seen any of the ads or articles or heard about it on the street, Proposition 46 is a deceptive measure sponsored by trial attorneys and opposed by a broad coalition of groups as disparate as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, California Republican Party, Los Angeles County Democratic Party, California Chamber of Commerce, California Teachers Association, the California Association of Rural Health Clinics and many more. A full coalition list can be seen here.

The San Francisco Chronicle described Proposition 46 as “flawed, misdirected and decidedly cynical.” It tries to address three separate and very different issues in the one measure.  Its parts would:

  1. Require mandatory drug testing for physicians with hospital privileges,
  2. Require physicians to check the statewide CURES database before prescribing controlled substances, and
  3. Quadruple the cap on non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases from $250,000 to $1,100,000 and index the cap for inflation.

The third provision about raising the cap on non-economic damages under MICRA is really the heart of the matter and the one issue that the trial attorneys truly care about. But if Prop. 46 passes, medical lawsuits and jury awards will skyrocket, which means increased healthcare costs across the state.  Malpractice insurance premiums for physicians could increase by double or more. That pushes out doctors, decreases access and reduces services. Meanwhile, a family of four would face $1,000/year in higher health costs, and according to California’s independent, non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), Prop. 46 could increase costs for state and local governments by “several hundred million dollars annually.

Higher healthcare costs. Reduced access to care. And new threats to patient privacy. These are all the reasons we are strongly opposed to Prop. 46.

The CSA has been doing much more than just contributing to the fight financially. We have been lending our voices and our presence to speak against Proposition 46. As your CSA president, I have spoken at the following locations and events against this measure: Childrens’ Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), CHOC’s medical staff town hall meeting, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Stanford Hospital, Orange County CSA meeting, the California Democratic Party convention, and the Orange County Democratic Party meeting.

The Democratic Party traditionally has very strong ties to trial attorneys, and it is generally not in favor of medical malpractice tort reform.  These meetings were challenging venues. But we are proud to report that Democratic clubs and committees across the state have opposed Prop. 46 because of its harmful consequences.  

Fortunately, public opinion seems to be shifting in the right way. While Prop. 46 polled well initially, sentiment has changed as people have had an opportunity to hear both sides and learn more about the issue. Now a majority of voters indicate opposition to the measure. But we will not stop until the election on Nov. 4!

Many of the decisions that affect us as physicians and anesthesiologists happen in the legislative and regulatory arena. We have to pool our resources to be effective. This battle is so important nationally that our ASAPAC in Washington, D.C. offered to match CSA and GASPAC contributions up to $20,000. I am proud to say that we have met that contribution level!

I hope that all of you will continue to support GASPAC after this campaign is over. Together we are stronger!

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