On November 4, the voters of California spoke loudly and definitively, sending the trial lawyers' Proposition 46 to defeat by a vote of 67 to 33. The message is clear – Californians simply don’t want to increase health care costs and reduce health access so trial attorneys can file more lawsuits.
An increase in the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) cap on non-economic damages has been rejected in California again and again: 10 times in court, 5 times in the Legislature and now overwhelmingly by voters. This idea now has its own dedicated spot in California’s political trash heap.
But this time, we energized the membership of CMA as a whole to fight the fight together, as one unified voice of medicine, representing the patients we so deeply care about and the care that we have committed to provide them.
Despite the trial attorney proponents' attempt to sweeten the deal by adding provisions that polled well– physician drug testing and mandatory checking of a prescription database – voters said NO on Election Night. As people throughout the state heard from physicians and No on 46 coalition members about the real intentions of the measure's proponents, there was resounding opposition.
One of the secret weapons of this effort was the size and diversity of our coalition. We helped amass one of the largest and most diverse campaigns in California history. The breadth of the coalition — which includes labor, business, local government, health providers, community clinics, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, NAACP, taxpayers, teachers, firefighters and more – underscores just how important affordable, accessible health care is to every Californian.
In addition to the groups on the ground talking to voters about the deception and trickery behind Prop. 46, every major editorial board in California opposed the initiative.
The Los Angeles Times said, “As worthwhile as [Proposition 46's] goals may be, the methods the measure would use to achieve them are too flawed to be enacted into law.”
The San Francisco Chronicle decried Prop. 46 saying that the measure, “overreached in a decidedly cynical way.”
The Orange County Register, UT San Diego, San Jose Mercury News, Monterey County Herald, Sacramento Bee and dozens of other newspapers echoed these sentiments.
The efforts of the California Medical Association and the county medical associations across the state is a tremendous showing of what we can do for the future of health care, the quality of medicine and the dedication to patients everywhere. Working together to spread the truth about Prop. 46, building coalitions across communities and standing strong as one united voice is what helped carry us to victory.
This was one of the most contentious and high-stakes ballot fights in California history and we rose to the occasion. We must use this unity moving forward and showcase to our colleagues the value the California Medical Association brings to our great profession and stay united for whatever comes our way next.