With his ballot measure now officially filed, Danville resident Bob Pack is continuing to fight for medical reform legislation. Through the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act of 2014, Pack aims to crack down on prescription drug abuse and medical malpractice.
If passed, the act will update the state's prescription drug monitoring system and adjust the 1975 Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which puts a cap on non-economic damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. The issue is of personal importance to Pack, whose two children were struck and killed in October 2003 by driver Jimena Barreto, who had been drinking and taking Vicodin.
In May, Pack traveled to Sacramento to campaign for the legislation and spoke of the possibility of a Senate hearing held by Senate President Darrell Steinberg. However, Steinberg has now changed his initial response to Pack's request.
"He has now shifted gears and has said that he would be willing to hold a hearing, but he wants us to negotiate a deal with the California Medical Association first and then bring that deal to the legislature, to him, for a hearing in order for him to create a Senate bill," Pack said.
So far, the two groups have not held any such negotiations, meaning that the hearing has not occurred and may not happen at all.
"Right now, the two sides are posturing and just haven't come together yet," Pack said, adding that his group is willing to negotiate, but they will be "moving forward as a ballot measure" for now.
Pack's group officially filed the ballot measure with the Attorney General last Wednesday. The measure contains three components: mandatory random drug testing for doctors, doctors' mandatory usage of the electronic CURES program in order to verify a patient's need for "dangerous narcotic prescriptions" and an adjustment of the MICRA cap from $250,000 to $1.1 million to account for inflation.
"The next step in the initiative is that the Attorney General's office and Secretary of State of California issue back an authorization that the ballot measure is valid -- that takes about 30 to 45 days from the filing date last week. They will officially provide us with a title and summary of the ballot measure," Pack said.
Now that the measure has been filed, Pack and his group will increase their promotional efforts.
"I personally will be traveling through the state for a press tour to shed light on this ballot measure. And, secondly, we will be organizing our efforts to qualify the ballot," Pack said.
The group can't officially start gathering signatures until they've received authorization from the Attorney General's office, at which point they have five months to collect over 500,000 signatures. Pack said he will work with a signature gathering company and it could take up to $1.5 million to get the necessary signatures.