In malpractice initiative battle, opponents heavily outspent backers

In malpractice initiative battle, opponents heavily outspent backers
Doctors and insurers spent heavily to defeat Proposition 46 last fall. The initiative -- backed by trial lawyers and consumer advocates -- would have raised the limit on certain medical malpractice damages. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Healthcare providers and insurers spent $58.6 million to sink a ballot measure that would have increased limits on certain medical malpractice damages, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday.

Proposition 46 would have also required hospitals to test their physicians for drug and alcohol use, and would have mandated that doctors check a state-run database before prescribing certain narcotic medications.

The initiative lost resoundingly in November, failing to win a single county in the state.

Proponents -- mostly trial lawyers and the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog -- spent nearly $11 million in favor of the measure. They ended the campaign with just over $13,000 cash on hand and more than $1.1 million in unpaid debt.

The "no" side held the overwhelming money advantage in the battle, boosted by seven- and eight-figure donations by medical malpractice insurers, hospital groups and the state's medical and dental associations. It ended the year with nearly $850,000 in the bank and just short of $8,000 in outstanding debt.

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