“Prop. 46 is a Scam by Lawyers and Costly to Taxpayers” – Debunking the Insurance Industry’s Mistruths & Myths of Prop. 46

Advocates of Prop. 46 Use Facts to Answer Voter Questions

Q:  Won’t the initiative boost health costs by $10 billion, as your foes say?

A:  Nope!  In fact, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office examined Prop 46 and found that it would result in “potentially significant” savings by reducing substance abuse and cutting down on preventable medical errors.

      The reality is that in a typical year, medical malpractice payments and defense costs account for 0.25% of the $230 billion spent on California health care. That’s one-quarter of one percent.  Even if payouts doubled, which is highly unlikely, we’d still be talking fractions of fractions.  A closer look at their $10 billion claim shows it is based on questionable interpretations of a study of patients more than 20 years ago, a study whose own authors later backed away from its conclusions.  That study never even considered the benefits of Prop. 46 in terms of money savings.

Q:   So the initiative will actually save California money?

A:   Yes!  It does so in two main ways: By acting as a deterrent to medical negligence and all the costs associated with those deaths and injuries, and by saving money spent mostly by governments because of prescription drug abuse.

       Experts say medical errors cost the nation up to $980 billion annually. If the Prop. 46 were to serve to prevent even a fraction of those errors, it would mean millions, if not billions, of dollars in savings for malpractice payouts, lower insurance costs, boosted productivity and other factors.

       Based on the experience in states that have mandated use of a prescription drug database, the CURES provisions of Prop. 46 could save California governments more than $400 million annually!

Q:    But didn’t the state’s Legislative Analyst say the initiative could cost California governments anywhere from $10 million to more than $100 million annually?

A:     The Legislative Analyst failed to take into account even the cost savings by mandating doctor use of the CURES database. Use of the database could cut prescription drug abuse in Medi-Cal enough to save $300 million in drugs that wouldn’t be prescribed. Nearly $100 million more would be saved on local public safety costs not needed because of a decline in prescription drug abuse, the fastest growing form of drug abuse in America.

Q:    You want to test doctors for drug and alcohol abuse. Why? And how will we know it’s fair?

A:    Most other occupations that hold public safety in hand are tested: airline pilots, police, bus drivers, even warehouse workers.  Doctors have ready access to high-powered narcotics and are in high-pressure jobs that can invite abuse. USA Today and the “Today” show have run stories saying that as many as 100,000 health care workers have a drug problem.   A California Medical Board report estimated that 18% of all physicians will suffer substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. That’s a pretty strong warning sign.

The drug testing will be based on the program used for airline pilots, which is effective, accurate and fair. Have you ever read a news story suggesting that airline pilots are complaining about their drug testing program? We haven’t either.   The costs of drug testing will be borne by the health care industry.  But they will save money because of fewer errors influenced by physician substance abuse.

Oversight for the program will fall with the California Medical Board, an oversight group with the expertise to ensure all drug testing is carried out in a manner that is fair for physicians.

Q:    Why does Prop. 46 combine what seem like three separate issues?

A:     As many as 440,000 Americans die each year of preventable medical errors. It’s like two jumbo jets crashing a day!

We have a serious problem that our state and federal government are doing nothing to address. Prop. 46 is a step in the direction of savings lives and money. It combines three different provisions that all will save lives by preventing physician substance abuse, curbing prescription drug abuse among patients and allowing malpractice victims a better chance of seeking seek justice and accountability, which will act as a deterrent against poor health care performance.  Just look at how a rash of malpractice lawsuits prompted anesthesiologists to change their practices. Instead of denying the problem, more than a decade ago they looked at the root cause of errors, made corrections across the profession and now are far safer – and pay lower malpractice insurance rates.

Q:     But won’t raising the cap on pain and suffering damages hurt low-income community clinics?

A:     This one is a whopper opponents of Prop. 46 love to voice. In fact, federal funded community clinics are immune to malpractice lawsuits!

Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, any clinic that receives federal funding – that’s about 90 percent of them in California – is defended against malpractice claims by the U.S. Attorney and any costs are paid by the federal government.   Analysis of community clinics in California shows that on average they spend 0.73% – that’s less than 1 percent – of their funding on insurance, most of that for property liability.

Q:    Why are groups like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood opposing Prop. 46?

A:     For a variety of bad reasons based mostly on mistruths foisted by the opponents of Prop. 46.

The ACLU wrongly thinks the CURES database violates personal privacy; in fact, the database already exists, Prop. 46 merely makes its use mandatory.

Planned Parenthood simply followed the lead of the OB-GYN doctors’ national umbrella group, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which adamantly opposes any adjustment in malpractice damages caps.