Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Voters resoundingly defeat Prop. 46

Voters resoundingly defeat Prop. 46

Dear Colleagues,

When I took office as President of the California Medical Association just over a year ago, I felt the weight of our future on my shoulders. As your leader, representing our 40,000 members, I vowed to do everything I could do to ensure the defeat of the trial attorneys and their deceptive work.

Shortly after I assumed my role, it became clear that the Consumer Attorneys of California and their front group, Consumer Watchdog, would indeed be moving forward with a three part ballot measure that would be put before voters. With my family and my colleagues, I was determined to commit to you and to fight for you.

It is with a humbled gratitude, a thankful heart and a smile that I can say, we did it. And I mean when I say that WE did it. Without your commitment, dedication and fortitude, we could not have come out victorious last night.

Yesterday, 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.

This has been a long haul. It was May of 2013, when I was called upon, as President Elect, to respond to a press conference that Consumer Watchdog held on the steps of the State Capitol. At that point, we didn't know exactly what the proposition would say, but we knew that it was going to be deceptive.

And, soon enough we would see that the trial attorney sponsors added provisions like random and mandatory drug testing of doctors to help “sweeten” the deal. The bottom line is that they knew voters wouldn't approve a measure that raises health care costs for everyone and decreases access – especially for those that need it most.

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 coalitions 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.

I cannot express my thanks to each of you enough, members of this esteemed organization. It is with great honor that I hand over the torch to Luther Cobb, M.D., as he now takes the seat as your CMA President. It has been my honor to serve you during this pivotal year. I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to the physicians of California who rallied their patients, families, friends and colleagues to defeat Prop. 46.

This has truly been an example of just how much stronger we are when we speak together with one voice to ensure that our patients continue to have access to quality patient care.

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.

Thank you!


Richard Thorp, M.D., FACP
Immediate Past President, California Medical Association

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