Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is SB 1429 (Steinberg) an aborted last ditch effort to settle medical malpractice liability ...

... or a possible vehicle for Gut and Amend at the end of the scheduled legislative session?    

In a nutshell, our opinion as of 28 April 2014 is that SB 1429 is almost dead in the water -- that's why we didn't discuss it in our previous article (RANDOM DRUG TESTING FOR LAWYERS: WHEN SHOULD LAWYERS BE DRUG TESTED?, 4/24/14)  about involuntary drug testing for lawyers. As matters stand now, the trial lawyers have committed their efforts to the initiative which has as its primary goal more money for lawyers who successfully prosecute malpractice cases. The initiative  would also impose random drug testing for doctors and require doctors to use a statewide data base when prescribing narcotic medication.

Steinberg's bill is less ambitious. His idea is to gather the parties together to work out a strategy that would be mutually satisfactory. Reasonable, you say? Not exactly because the lawyers aren't looking for a compromise on nickels and dimes and the doctors are dismayed about how much they already pay for malpractice insurance. Hence, a small increase in settlements as might be expected if non-economic damages were increased slightly or indexed for inflation doesn't interest the lawyers who, by the way, rejected a cost-of-living adjustment several years ago. Any increase in malpractice premiums doesn't sit well with the doctors whose incomes have been eroded over the last few years as managed care plans, HMOs, PPOs, and Covered California take over.

As for the statewide data base called CURES, just try to use it. Usually their phones if they have more than one go unanswered or the caller does not get the information requested. We've been advised that the database is underfunded and can't get the coverage it needs. So one of the first services to cut was knowledgeable persons answering phones.

It looks like both sides have stepped away from SB 1429, but, in theory, that could change under the proper circumstances. That would imply mutual  cooperation which at the moment does not appear likely in California's  House of Cards. SB 1429 lurks in the corner, a candidate for Gut and Amend.

Late Flash: the trial lawyers' initiative has now been designated Proposition 46 while the campaign against it will be known as the No on 46 Campaign. We will support No on 46 and advise our readers to do the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment