Medical malpractice reform lowers costs, increases access to carePosted: March 2, 2011
Raleigh – The North Carolina Senate on Wednesday passed a bi-partisan bill reforming the state’s medical malpractice laws, a move that will attract quality doctors, bring new jobs and make health care more affordable and accessible for all North Carolinians.
Senate Bill 33 sets a $500,000 cap on the amount juries can award for noneconomic damages that can’t be measured, such as pain and suffering. Butpatients still can recover all medical costs and lost income.
It protects doctors and medical personnel from frivolous lawsuits that force them to perform unnecessary procedures and tests. Every North Carolinian pays for that defensive medicine through higher insurance costs and taxpayer-funded medical programs for the poor.
“Serious efforts to improve our broken health care system must include malpractice reform,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “Our citizens suffer in a lottery-like system that lets trial lawyers win big while doctors flee to states where they can practice without fear of unfair lawsuits.”
More than 25 other states have passed similar malpractice reform laws, and the number of physicians in many those states has steadily increased as a result.
Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), said his home county has no neurosurgeons, and for years only had one obstetrician-gynecologist.
“This will save our citizens money, and give them more opportunities for treatment, just as it has in other states,” said Apodaca, one of the bill’s sponsors. “North Carolina is a leader in medical education and research. This legislation will make us a leader in quality health care, too.”