Drug testing for California doctors?
They’re calling it the “Pee in the Cup’’ initiative — a proposed state ballot measure that would require doctors to be randomly subjected to drug and alcohol testing, the same way bus drivers are.
It’s being pushed by a tech mogul who’s on a very personal crusade to clean up the state’s medical practices.
Bob Pack is a former AOL and NetZero exec whose 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter were struck and killed a decade ago near their Danville home by a driver under the influence of alcohol and prescription pills.
After going public with a campaign to put his kids’ killer behind bars for second-degree murder, Pack turned his attention to helping the state track patient prescriptions and spot “doctor shoppers’’ like the driver in Danville.
After state funding for the effort dried up, Pack tried and failed to qualify a ballot initiative that would have taxed drug companies to pay for the tracking.
Now he’s taking aim at doctors who abuse drugs themselves. He’s enlisted the help of consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield — the guy behind the landmark 1988 measure regulating the insurance industry — and former Clinton White House adviser Chris Lehane, whose trial lawyer clients have already dropped $2 million into a campaign account.
Pack and his pals are armed with a new poll showing 85 percent of California voters would be on board with random testing of physicians. They’re also touting an article in the prestigious Journal of American Medicine advocating confidential, mandatory testing.
They’re looking to hit the streets this summer with either a single-issue measure or a multi-prong initiative that would also:
–Lift the cap on damages in medical malpractice cases.
–Change the makeup of the state Medical Board, which disciplines bad doctors, to require that a majority come from outside the medical profession.
–And ensure funding for a state database to track what drugs doctors are prescribing —and if they’re being recklessly prescribed.
The California Medical Association “isn’t in the business of speculating on every hypothetical, ridiculous ballot measure that is floated,’’ say spokeswoman Molly Weedn, but she calls the effort by Pack and his cohorts “nothing more than an ill-fated publicity stunt.’’
CMA claims the real goal to lift the decades-old cap on medical malpractice cases — a “money grab” by the trial lawyers that won’t fly with either the Legislature or voters.
We’re told a deal is about to be announced in Sacramento, with support from the doctors, that will ensure funding for the database and reorganize the Medical Board.
That could leave just malpractice awards and peeing in a cup on the November 2014 ballot. If that happens, you’re likely to see a battle royal.
For more M&R, including the the surprise bill that former Oakland cops are getting from the city, read here.