Proposition 46 is going to the polls next Tuesday in California, where voters will have the final say in whether or not the state will raise its medical malpractice damages cap, which has been in place for nearly 40 years. There are three components to Proposition 46:
California Proposition 46
Non-Economic Damages Cap Increase to $1.1 Million
California’s cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is currently set at $250,000, where it has been since 1975 when the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) was enacted. Proposition 46 would increase this cap to $1.1 million, "approximately what the cap would be when adjusted for inflation."
A new study release by Health Affairs stated that on average, a $250,000 cap on non economic damages in medical malpractice cases reduced payments by 20%. So if Prop 46 were passed, Californians could expect a 20% increase in malpractice suit payments. The study found that a $500,000 cap had "no significant effect on average." Claims in the areas of pediatrics, obstetrics, and gynecology were most likely to be effected by a $250,000 cap.
New Rules Over Dispensing Controlled Substances
The second component of Prop 46 is a new rule concerning the prescription of controlled substances. Under Prop 46, doctors would be required to look at the patient’s prescription history before writing a prescription for a controlled substance. It is hoped that this would reduce the practice of "doctor shopping," when one patient obtains prescriptions for controlled substances from multiple doctors.
Random Drug Screening for Physicians
The final component of Prop 46 is a new rule that would institute random drug screenings for all medical practitioners in the state. If a physician tested positive during a screening, his or her license would be suspended while this result was investigated.