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Measure To Raise California’s Malpractice Cap Could Be On November Ballot

Aired 4/2/14 on KPBS News.

An expensive battle is looming over a proposed ballot measure that would raise the state’s cap on medical malpractice awards.

California put a $250,000 cap on pain-and-suffering awards nearly 40 years ago.

It's one of nearly 30 states that limits damages in medical liability cases.

Supporters of the proposed ballot measure to raise the limit say California's cap is so low, people who’ve been harmed by doctors can’t afford to go to court.

The initiative would raise the awards limit to $1.1 million.

Doctors complain the bill would drive up the price of malpractice insurance and other healthcare costs.

Carmen Balber directs the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog, which is pushing the measure. She claims the criticisms are bogus.

“These are the same arguments that the medical industry and health insurance companies make against any reform, that would help patients and perhaps hurt their bottom line,” Balber said.

The proposed measure would also subject doctors to random drug testing, and require physicians to check the state's CURES database before prescribing narcotics to patients.

Supporters have turned in more than 800,000 signatures in hopes of putting the measure on the November ballot. The Secretary of State must verify the signatures.

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