Monday, October 6, 2014

Proposition 46 -- last word, well, almost!

Proposition 46, most voters have figured out, is about raising the limit on "pain and suffering" from $250,000 to $1,100,000 if not more. This amount would be in addition to unlimited economic damages which is already the law. In other words, a cadre of lawyers whose specialty is medical malpractice would be emboldened to sue in circumstances where they might otherwise decline. Ask yourself what would be the consequence of so doing according to Proposition 46?

1) Most likely, insurance companies will raise their annual premiums for a family of four by about $1,000 to $1,250.

2) State and county hospitals, supported by tax dollars, often get virtually hopeless accident cases where medical error may occur even in the hands of the most skilled surgeons. To cover the costs of increased malpractice payouts it is likely that state and county taxes will go up. 

3) What about the system whereby physicians would be obliged to find out what drugs their patients were on before prescribing analgesics for pain. Truth is, I personally called into the system months ago to ask about a patient. That was before Proposition 46 was known. Nobody was home. I was advised that although the program existed in theory it wasn't funded well enough to have full time staff with telephone exchange and answering services. Not to worry, increased taxes should take care of that deficiency. But isn't this system the one we depend upon for privacy about our medical prescriptions? Additional safeguards will be needed. Not to worry about that, either -- increased taxes should pay for enhanced privacy protection, shouldn't it?  

Conclusion: the trial lawyers didn't do a scholarly enough job in putting Proposition 46 together. As written Prop. 46 puts ordinary citizens at risk for increased costs for health insurance premiums, for increased state and county taxes, and for invasions of privacy. It should be defeated. Vote No on 46.

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