Thursday, October 9, 2014

No on 46, Drug and Alcohol Testing for Doctors, California Proposition

Doctors do need to be better regulated or policed. Normally we would support a proposition that headed us in the right direction even if it was not exactly what we wanted. But Proposition 46 ignores real issues while focusing on insubstantial ones.

Do some doctors abuse drugs? Yes! A small percentage of doctors either take painkillers and other mood-changing drugs themselves or prescribe them for patients based on getting paid for it, not based on medical need.

But all doctors should not be required to take drug and alcohol tests. That is a Big Brother solution to a human failure problem. Plus doctors are smart: if ordinary cons can beat drug tests, you know doctor-addicts will find a way to beat them.

What really needs policing in the world of Doctors today?

In addition to having the existing, doctor-dominated Medical Board of California tighten up on incompetence, we need a separate board to examine complaints about physicians overcharging patients (or insurers). "Drive by" charges, when a friend who is out-of-network peaks at a patient, or even performs a real service, and then charges far more than insurers normally allow, should be stopped cold by heavy fines for such practices.

Doctors who refuse to take insurance, or refuse Medi-Cal or Medicare patients, or try to cheat the system in any way should lose their licenses and suffer heavy fines.

There does seem to be a doctor shortage in California. This results from the American Medical Association's longstanding policy of refusing to license new medical schools. In addition, current medical schools should be enrolling and graduating more patients. The shortage of doctors drives the price of medical care up more than any other single factor.

We do believe the cap on pain and suffering damages is too low. But Proposition 46 is not the way to address that issue.

No on 46. We need genuine reform of the profession, not Big Brother tactics on a narrow issue.

California Proposition 46 text and arguments

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