Poll: Weak support for Prop. 46, medical malpractice

Poll: Weak support for Prop. 46, medical malpractice

lawyers, Darkow, cagle, Sept. 16, 2014I usually don’t watch local TV news, which is about Los Angeles 45 miles away from Huntington Beach. But I watched NBC channel 4 yesterday night as a lead-in to Barbra Streisand on Jimmy Fallon’s show. Babs still is fabulous! (She stayed away from politics.)

Commercials included several anti-Proposition 46 ads. One showed a kindly, middle-aged doctor in a white lab coat saying how much it would increase medical costs. This is a typical doctors vs. trial lawyers battle. There were no ads last night from the trial lawyers.

It looks like the initiative is in trouble, according to a USC poll. The Los Angeles Times reported:

Among likely voters, 61% favored the measure, or leaned in that direction; 29% were opposed.

But that approval slid to 47% when respondents were told of high potential costs to the state — as well as possible savings — and opposition rose to 39%.

Backing eroded further when those surveyed heard both sides’ main campaign arguments. Support fell to 37%, with 50% opposed.

The initiative’s main part would increase the cap on malpractice damages, which has been $250,000 since 1975, to $1 million. The current limit has been one of the few sensible curbs on excess litigation in a state known to have too many lawsuits. But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Inflation Calculator, $250,000 in 1975 is equal to $1.1 million today.

So Prop. 46’s increase in limits is reasonable. Except the proposition increases it too fast. They should have tried something smaller at first, say to $400,000.


Then the initiative, in typical California fashion, lards the wording with extra stuff supposedly to make it more attractive to voters:

  • Require drug and alcohol testing of doctors and reporting of positive tests to the California Medical Board.
  • Require the California Medical Board to suspend doctors pending investigation of positive tests and take disciplinary action if the doctor was found impaired while on duty.
  • Require health care practitioners to report any doctor suspected of drug or alcohol impairment or medical negligence.
  • Require health care practitioners to consult the state prescription drug history database before prescribing certain controlled substances.

It’s just more harassment of your doctor, who’s already suffering under a mountain of paperwork from Medicare, Medi-Cal, Covered California, etc.

Of course, we don’t want doctors drunk or high on the job. But this would be an intrusive attack on their integrity.

Maybe we should make the same requirements for trial lawyers.

Just kidding, counselors! But don’t be surprised if there’s retaliation from the sawbones.

Tags assigned to this article:
John SeilerProp. 46medical malpractice

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