Two ballot initiatives will impact an array of health issues. Propositions 45 and 46 are very different, so we recommend voters to support the first one and to reject the second one.
Proposition 45 seeks to expand the power of the California Insurance Commissioner to accept or reject rate hikes from health insurance companies, the same way it does with home and car insurance, since Proposition 103.
This has always been a good idea, one that has been touted many times in the past. The difference is, today there’s a federal health care law in place, and its panel Covered California already negotiates rates and services with the insurance industry.
The main argument against the initiative is the chaos it would presumably unleash on the process, as it would give the Insurance Commissioner the task of accepting or rejecting what Covered California had already negotiated.
We don’t think Proposition 45 would jeopardize the system because it refers specifically to individual plans and excludes group health plans, which cover 84% of Californians.
In short, Proposition 45 aims to protect only 16% of those insured, which are the most affected by rate hikes. The fact that the insurance industry is spending tens of millions of dollars against the initiative is a signal that they are afraid to lose control, just like what happened with Proposition 103.
Proposition 46, on the other hand, has the good intentions of protecting the patient, but the real-life consequences of the specific proposals could do more harm than good.
It’s a good idea to raise the cap on pain-and-suffering awards in medical malpractice suits, but the prospect of a rate hike could, in the long term, be detrimental to patients. Nobody wants to be treated by an intoxicated doctor, but privacy issues should also be taken into account. The initiative doesn’t do so.
For all these reasons, we think that voting for Proposition 45 and against Proposition 46 would be the best for all Californians