A groundbreaking ballot measure to require medical professionals to submit to random drug-testing in California will be available for voter input in November. If passed, California will be the first state to institute into law a requirement for medical professionals to undergo random drug testing. The issue has been brought to light after an unconnected measure to raise the cap on medical malpractice lawsuits in California to $1.1 million was supported. These measures will be bundled into one ballot initiative in November. The ballot initiative will be known as Proposition 46, and is already being opposed by medical professionals in the state.
This measure may set the stage for a national debate into why medical professionals should be randomly tested for drug and alcohol abuse. Currently, many different occupations, such as airline pilots, firefighters, police officers and even professional athletes are required to submit to random drug-testing. Consumer advocacy groups are raising awareness and arguing that the people who are responsible for the health and well-being of consumers should be subjected to the testing, as well.
Endorsement of this initiative is already being received by many Democrats in the state, and opposition is being sent through unions and clinics that are subjects of frequent litigation. Opponents of the initiative call it a “money grab” by trial lawyers in the state, and argue that the initiative, as it is written, is flawed and deceptive. Dr. Richard Thorp, the president of the California Medical Association, calls the initiative a “theatrical initiative” used by trial lawyers to make money. When asked whether or not he supported drug-testing medical professionals, Dr. Thorp replied: “That is a great theoretical question”, but would not delve any deeper into the subject.
The discussion between the two sides is providing a platform for national discussion into the issue. According to the initiatives supporters, care providers and employees who are responsible for the well-being of people should be required to work under the same standards as similar professionals in unrelated fields. Meaning, drug tests should be the norm for medical professionals, and no one is above suspicion. Consumer advocacy groups such as Consumer Watchdog are publically supporting the initiative and the reasoning behind it.
The California Medical Association is determined to see that this initiative is not passed. Opponents of the initiative have already raised $35 million to defeat it, sparking massive debate and responses from the lawyers and consumer groups that support it. Across the country, professionals that both support and oppose the initiative are speaking their opinions publically and providing reasons to support their views.
All of this comes from voter focus groups that supported the idea of raising the medical malpractice award limits in the state, despite the fear that doing so may raise insurance rates and provide greater costs to local governments. Doctors and opponents of the initiative call the ballot measure “political trickery” and are confident that voters will see that in November. If passed, California will be the first state to require medical professionals to undergo random drug-testing, and will most likely set a precedent for future ballot measures to appear in other states. All of this is aimed at reducing the inept ability for medical malpractice claims within the country.