By Doug Porter
The following analyses of Propositions 45 & 46 represent my opinions. The SD Free Press editorial board may or may not agree with me. For all our articles on the upcoming election, check out our 2014 Progressive Voter’s Guide.
There are no special interests more special than insurance companies, doctors and lawyers. Here we have two propositions involving all three groups. And there is more subterfuge going on than anybody can keep track of.
Monies from the committees supporting and opposing the different measures overlap. There is a joint campaign committee in support of both 45 and 46. “No on 45” funds have been transferred into the State GOP coffers and mysteriously reappeared three days later with interest.
Generally speaking Prop 45 is supported by consumer groups, Democrats and lawyers along with medical and professional unions. Prop 45 is opposed by the insurance industry, chambers of commerce, the GOP and blue collar trade unions.
Proposition 46 is generally supported by lawyers, consumer groups, and the California Nurses Association PAC. It is opposed by virtually the entire medical profession (it’s a phone book full of groups), organized labor, (trigger alert) the GOP, chambers of commerce and the ACLU.
(Endorsements are coming,soon. We just don’t meet that often)
The People Who Opposed Obamacare Have a Proposition for You
Proposition 45 – Healthcare Insurance. Rate Changes. Initiative Statute.
Opponents: Californians Against Higher Health Care Costs, stophighercosts.org
Ballotpedia Guide: The details, in plain English
You Might Not Know: California is the only state where auto insurance rates actually went down over the last 25 years. That’s because of Proposition 103, passed in 1989. Proposition 45 is the same kind of legislation, only for the Health Insurance industry.
My Analysis: Talk about your basic David vs. Goliath scenario. The health insurance industry has over $37 million banked to defeat Prop. 45 vs the less than $5 million raised by its proponents.
Just about every Chamber of Commerce in the state, the Republican Party, the California Medical Association and a host of trade unions all think Prop 45 is a bad idea.
The real money for the opposition, however, is coming from the Health Insurance industry. These are the same people who, while mouthing support for the Affordable Care Act, secretly pumped over $86 million into the US Chamber of Commerce campaign to defeat the bill
The gist of industry opposition to Prop 45 is that “special interests” (what the hell are the medical and insurance lobbies- non-special interests?) are out to give ONE POLITICIAN (their capitalization) new power over health care. They’re also pumping the airwaves full of vague predictions about the quality of health care services declining. (Does anybody remember the Obamacare Death Panels?)
That politician is the State Commissioner of Insurance, whose office has saved Californians an average annual savings of $345 per household, or $8,625 per family over the past 25 years on auto insurance.
Prop 45 requires companies to be transparent and truthful when applying for rate increases for health insurance. While the Affordable Healthcare Act made insurance available to millions of people, it does nothing about what they get charged for that coverage. Given that rates have gone up 185% over the past decade, maybe it’s time that California joined the 35 other states requiring insurers to justify rates for health coverage.
Please ignore the ads against Prop 45. Don’t be a sucker. Your wallet will thank you. Vote for 45.
Bringing the Drug War to Your Doctor’s Office
Proposition 46 – Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors. Medical Negligence Lawsuits. Initiative Statute.
Supporters: Yes on 46, Consumer Watchdog
Opponents: No on 46
Ballotpedia Guide: The details, in plain English
You Might Not Know: Supporters of Yes on 46 include Candace Lightner, Founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Consumer Advocate Erin Brokovich, Actor Dennis Quaid, and California State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (the ONE POLITICIAN cast as a bad guy by the No on 45 crowd)
My Analysis: We’ve got a real problem with medical competence in this country. By some estimates, as many as 440,000 people die each year from preventable medical negligence.
A premise underlying Prop 46 is that raising the $250,000 cap on pain and suffering damages, which has never been adjusted for inflation, will address this issue.
If only they’d come up with some evidence that states with higher awards for pain and suffering have better medical care, I’d be all for this. I would most likely support this part in any case; $250,000 doesn’t go very far these days.
So when the trial lawyers (that’s who’s funding Prop 46) got around to marketing the idea of an initiative for bigger payouts, they found polling (and very passionate patient advocates) indicating that incompetent doctors were a concern for many voters. Who better to sell this measure than aggrieved loves ones?
This measure would also require doctors to crosscheck a database with prescribing controlled substances as a means of combating the process of “doctor-shopping” common to abusers of prescription drugs. This process has worked in other states. Somehow, opponents claim, it will never work in California: Hogwash.
Supporters of this initiative have painted the medical world as riddled with substance abuse problems, citing California Medical Board estimates pointing to almost one-in-five doctors (18%) who’ve suffered from drug and/or alcohol abuse at some point during their careers.
Given that 10% of all Americans consider themselves to be in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse problems and another 6.8% were dependent on alcohol or had problems related to their use of alcohol in 2012 AND 9.2 % of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication in the past month, I’d say this 18% “scare stat” doesn’t really tell us much more than doctors are human.
What I take issue with about Proposition 46 –which I believe is well-meaning– is the drug testing requirement. That smacks of the “war on drugs” mentality to me. I don’t care if my caregiver smoked a joint before the Paul McCartney concert.
Furthermore, drug testing doesn’t work. Fact: educated users have been beating drug tests for years.
I think people should be able to sue for more money for pain and suffering. Doctors should have to cross check prescriptions for controlled substances. The medical profession needs a lot of policing, including a stringent (non-peer) review process. (not covered in this measure)
I just don’t think peeing in a cup solves this problem. Or any problem for that matter. I won’t vote for this.
And, yes, I realize I’m voting the way the GOP wants me to.