$66M Raised So Far in Fight Over Medical Malpractice Ballot Initiative

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A total of $66 million has been raised in the battle over a November ballot initiative related to the state's cap on pain-and-suffering awards in medical malpractice lawsuits and random drug testing of physicians, AP/U-T San Diego reports.

Background on Prop. 46

Proposition 46 aims to improve patient safety by:

  • Increasing the state's $250,000 limit on pain-and-suffering awards in malpractice lawsuits to $1.1 million and adjusting it for future inflation (Lin, AP/U-T San Diego, 10/22);
  • Requiring doctors to undergo random drug-testing; and
  • Requiring doctors to use a prescription drug-reporting system.

The measure will appear on the state's Nov. 4 ballot (California Healthline, 10/2).

Details of Opposition, Support

As of Wednesday, opponents of Prop. 46 had raised $57 million to defeat the measure, while supporters had raised $9.1 million.

Opponents — including doctors, hospitals and medical liability insurers — say that raising the pain-and-suffering cap could increase medical costs, prompting some doctors to move to other states. California physicians currently pay an average of $26,511 in annual premiums for liability insurance, compared with $137,412 in New York, according to the California Medical Association.

However, supporters — including trial attorneys and patient advocates — say the limit in the malpractice law is outdated and should be updated and adjusted for inflation (AP/U-T San Diego, 10/22).

Both sides have been using grassroots tactics to engage voters. For example, CMA has provided physicians with reading material for patients in both English and Spanish with arguments against the initiative. Meanwhile, individuals affected by medical malpractice have made appearances at city council meetings, political clubs and schools to back the measure (Mason, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 10/21).

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