SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – The No on 46 campaign - a coalition of hundreds of medical organizations and unions - recently released a campaign video questioning the readiness of a California prescription drug database that's use would be mandatory if Proposition 46 passes.
The fate of Prop 46, a ballot measure that would increase the state Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act’s current cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits to $1.1 million, will be decided by California voters come November.
In addition to inflating the MICRA cap, Prop 46 will make CURES, a prescription drug database, and drug testing of physicians mandatory.
The No on 46 video, entitled “Terrible Joke,” features the man who oversees CURES, Mike Smalls of the Attorney General’s Office.
A basic version of CURES went live in September 2009 under then-Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is now governor.
"(CURES) has proven one thing unquestionably - that it is not robust enough, it is not sufficient enough to carry out the mission that we need,” Smalls said in the video.
The author of the initiative, software designer Bob Pack, designed CURES and said in a past interview that CURES will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars, and if the measure passes, the system will have $3.4 million on hand for upgrades in order to handle the new 200,000 plus physician users.
Although use of the database is not mandatory, Pack says currently 12,000 physicians use CURES and report the system as being a great asset.
However, Smalls contradicts Pack in the video.
“(W)e've been really running on unofficial status, recognizing that it is an important public health and public safety program, we've been trying to sustain,” Smalls said.
“And as a consequence, we are unable to satisfactorily respond to the important constituencies, particularly the practitioners. We've been unable to answer phone calls in a timely basis and we've been taking far too long to process applications that we get for new registrants and new users.”
Smalls continues by joking and saying that if he tried as hard as he could to build a terrible system, he could not build anything worse than CURES.
In 2004, Bob Pack lost both of his children when a “doctor-shopping” prescription drug addict high on pills ran them down on a neighborhood sidewalk – a tragedy motivating his decade-long mission.
He has openly said many times he believes CURES will save lives.
Reach David Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org