Nearly 40 years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law to help stem spiraling costs for medical malpractice insurance policies in California.
The matter is now before voters as a complex and multifaceted initiative that would raise the limit to $1.1 million and adjust it annually to reflect increases in inflation. Proposition 46 would also mandate random drug and alcohol testing of doctors and require health care practitioners to check a state prescription drug history database before prescribing certain drugs.
Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School, said caps in medical malpractice cases not only harm patients and their families, but also are ruining the health care system. Doroshow, a supporter of Proposition 46 who wishes the measure abolished California’s $250,000 cap altogether, cited a study by researchers at Northwestern University. It found no evidence that limiting medical malpractice lawsuits bends the health care cost curve, “except perhaps in the wrong direction.”
“We have found that the legal system, and whether or not there are caps, (has) nothing to do with rates,” Doroshow said.
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