Money talks: Props. 45, 46 down sharply

In the face of $150 million in opposition spending, two ballot measures to regulate health insurance insurance rates, require drug testing for doctors and ease caps on medical malpractice awards have declined sharply in popular support, according to the final Field Poll of this year’s election.

Both measures, Propositions 45 and 46, were placed on the ballot by Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based activist group. Proposition 45 would allow the state insurance commissioner to regulate health insurance rates. Proposition 46 would raise a $250,000 limit –set in 1975 – on medical malpractice awards and require doctors to be drug tested.

Both measures, the most hotly contested measures on the Nov. 4 ballot, received public support during the summer, but a fall spending blitz against the proposal has changed voters’ perceptions of the two measures, the poll noted. The poll and its methodology are available here.

“In the latest poll, voters have moved to vote No on both measures,” said pollsters Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field. “In the case of Prop. 45, 30 percent of likely voters are now in favor, while 42 percent are opposed and 28% remain undecided. On Prop. 46, 32 percent are intending to vote Yes, 49 percent are on the No side and 19 percent are undecided. Both measures were supported by wide margins in the summer.”

Financial disclosure documents on file with the secretary of state report that some $57 million has been spent against Proposition 45 and about $94 million has been spent to defeat Proposition 46. Most of the money has come from health insurers, medical providers, physicians groups and others.

About $15 million has spent in favor of the two initiatives, much of it from consumer groups, attorneys and their allies.

In other ballot measures, Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond, was leading more than 2-to-1 with 54 percent of the vote, but with more than a fifth of the voters still undecided.

Proposition 47, a sentencing reform measure to lower the numbers of non-violent offenders from prison, received 51 percent support, but with more than a fifth of the electorate undecided.


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