October 21, 2014

Ed. Note: Proposition 46 is one of the sneakier propositions on the California ballot this year. To sweeten the rest of the proposition for voters, the drafters added an increase to medical liability limits. But the balance of it is awful -- mandatory database checks for patients who take certain medications, like pain medication or ADHD drugs, and random drug testing for doctors.

The upshot of this particular ballot initiative would deeply affect many Californians both through the costs of implementation and by placing another barrier in between them and their doctors. Here is one medical student's argument for why she opposes it. She appears a few seconds into the video, which was provided to me by the No on 46 campaign.

by Lucy Ogbu-Nwobodo, U.C. Davis medical student and Bay Area native

Since my childhood, I have wanted to become a physician – to help the people with the most need and to improve their quality of life.

During my childhood in West Africa, I saw many people get sick and die from diseases that should have been either preventable or curable with the most basic of medical services. Since moving to East Oakland at age eleven, I have been exposed to high rates of violent crimes, substance abuse as well as mental illnesses and homelessness.

Now my dream of providing high-quality medical care to those in need is becoming a reality. I spent several years as a volunteer in various capacities at Highland Hospital in Oakland—a safety net institution serving Alameda County’s most medically disenfranchised. I am a medical student at UC Davis School of Medicine and a Co-Director of the Imani Clinic – a student-run facility serving a low-income neighborhood in Sacramento. Imani’s patients depend on us for all of their medical care, ranging from chronic disease management to emergency care.

It is through this lens – my commitment to caring for the poorest among us – that I approach Proposition 46 on the November ballot, which would quadruple the limit on some damages in medical lawsuits.

I strongly oppose Proposition 46 because it would have devastating effects on the Californians who need the most help.Raising the current cap on medical lawsuit damages would lead to more lawsuits, higher payouts, higher health care costs for everyone and reduced access to care, especially at community clinics in the most medically underserved parts of California.

Passing Proposition 46 would make malpractice insurance more expensive for community clinics. This would force them to either ask impoverished patients to pay more than they can afford, or force clinics to reduce or even eliminate services.

I urge all Californians to join me in voting No on Proposition 46.

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