Voters Reject Rate Regulation, Physician Drug Testing Measures
Two ballot initiatives related to health insurance rate regulation and random drug testing of physicians failed, while California voters passed a separate ballot initiative aimed at reducing criminal penalties, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Seipel/Calefeti, San Jose Mercury News, 11/4).
About 60% of Californians voted against Proposition 45, the AP/Fresno Bee reports (Taxin, AP/Fresno Bee, 11/5).
The measure would have given the state insurance commissioner the authority to reject health insurance rate increases (California Healthline, 10/31).
The rejection of Prop. 45 came after its opponents -- including insurers, such as Kaiser Permanente and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association -- raised millions of dollars for a campaign against the measure (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED, 11/5).
According to the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal," the opposition campaign raised about $57 million (Lifsher, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 11/4). In comparison, proponents of the measure raised about $2.5 million ("State of Health," KQED, 11/5).
State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) said, "It turns out $57.5 million of false and negative advertising by the health insurers actually has an impact on voters, unfortunately" (Gutierrez/Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/5).
Micah Weinberg -- senior policy adviser to the Bay Area Council, which opposed Prop. 45 -- said, "This was a huge threat to health reform in the state, so I'm very, very glad that we've batted it back" (AP/Fresno Bee, 11/5).
Meanwhile, votes against Proposition 46 outnumbered the yes votes by two to one, the Wall Street Journal's "Washington Wire" reports (Lazo, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 11/5).
Proposition 46 aimed to improve patient safety by:
- Increasing the state's $250,000 limit on pain-and-suffering awards in malpractice lawsuits;
- Requiring doctors to undergo random drug-testing; and
- Requiring doctors to use a drug-reporting system (California Healthline, 10/31).
According to KQED's "State of Health," the campaign against Prop. 46 raised nearly $60 million -- seven times more than the campaign supporting the ballot initiative (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED, 11/4).
Dustin Corcoran -- CEO of the California Medical Association and chair of the No on 46 campaign -- said, "Californians rejected Proposition 46 because increasing payouts in medical lawsuits would have increased health care costs and reduced access to needed medical care" (Blood, AP/U-T San Diego, 11/5).
However, Bob Pack -- author of the measure -- said that the "battle doesn't stop here," adding that his "coalition will continue to press for changes to end that cycle of preventable death, to put a dent in prescription drug abuse, ensure our doctors aren't operating under the influence and give malpractice victims a better shot at justice" (San Jose Mercury News, 11/4).
Meanwhile, Proposition 47 passed by about 58% of votes to 42%, the Sacramento Bee reports (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 11/4).
The measure will change six "non-violent, non-serious" crimes from felony charges to misdemeanors, including:
- Property crimes worth less than $950, such as bad checks, forgery, fraud, grand theft, receiving stolen property and shoplifting; and
- Possession of small amounts of illicit drugs.
An independent legislative analysis found that Prop. 47 could save the state several hundred million dollars. Of the money saved:
- 65% will be earmarked for community-based mental health and drug treatment services;
- 25% will be earmarked for education; and
- 10% will be earmarked for crime victim services (California Healthline, 10/28).
Ethan Nadelmann -- executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance -- said, "The overwhelming support for this reform sends a powerful message nationally, demonstrating that voters are not just ready but eager to reduce prison populations in ways that can enhance public safety" (Sacramento Bee, 11/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.