The Republican majority of the North Carolina legislature is pushing several items of proposed legislature that significantly reduce the legal rights of N.C. citizens. One of the glaring problems with these bills is that there is little practical / common sense justification for these bills (other than obvious political motivation).
Senate Bill 33 has been proposed as a medical malpractice reform bill, with the essential justification to reduce healthcare costs and lower supposed out-of-control verdicts. However, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that preventable medical mistakes kill 4,000 patients and permanently injure 5,700 patiently annually in North Carolina alone. Medical malpractice kills more people annually in North Carolina than auto accidents, breast cancer, and murder combined.
Your elected officials are responding to these statistics: 9,700 of you severely injured / killed annually by medical malpractice annually. However, they are not responding as you would think; they are instead letting the insurance companies and doctors off the hook. The proposal (S.B. 33) proposes a uniform cap on damages. It doesn't matter how bad your injury is; it doesn't matter how badly you are maimed; it doesn't matter how long you have to live; it doesn't matter how bad the pain is; nothing matters! The damages are capped at $500,000. The facts of your case are irrelevant.
If you will note my recent blog posts, you will note there are a variety of legal scholars, including a Supreme Court Justice who has warned this proposal is unconstitutional. It is also just plain stupid. As for the stupidity, the proposal provides near immunity for emergency room physicians. Just ask yourself this question: if you should require emergency room care, would you want the physician to be held to a completely different standard of care than other doctors?
My challenge to you: think for yourself. Do you really think that allowing doctors to commit malpractice with no repercussions is going to help decrease healthcare cost? Do you really think that insurance companies are going to lower your premiums, and cut their profits? My expectation is that malpractice will occur at a much higher rate, while the injured patients have no recovery for their harm. As many people have no insurance, much of the resulting care needed will be pushed onto Medicare / Medicaid (two already bankrupt systems). For those of you who have health insurance, your premiums will continue to increase; they are not going to decrease.
My advice, contact your representatives promptly and voice your concerns specifically and loudly. The strong objection of various individuals is the only way that these laws will not be passed.