A medical malpractice insurer has lowered its premiums and is crediting what is often called tort reform in this and other states.
Mag Mutual Insurance Co., the second-largest such firm in the state, credits the new laws with almost half of its recent 7.4 percent average cut in insurance premiums for doctors.
The legislature last year overrode Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill capping “noneconomic” damages at $500,000.
The Triangle Business Journal first reported on the development earlier this month, and conservatives quickly pointed to it as proof that the reform they’ve been calling for was already paying off.
State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger sent out this remark late last week:
“We stood up to the trial lawyers’ interest groups and the governor to make sure doctors would be able to stay in our state without the fear of baseless, exorbitant lawsuits. The costs of those lawsuits were being passed along to patients, and in an already broken health care system, we had to act. Our bipartisan efforts are paying off, and North Carolinians are now seeing some initial benefits.”
Dick Taylor, president of N.C. Advocates for Justice, the state’s association of plaintiff’s attorneys, issued this response Sunday:
“Insurance companies have long over-charged doctors, racking up huge profits and using a fictional tort ‘crisis’ to limit the rights of those catastrophically hurt by medical errors. These corporations should have lowered their rates years ago. Meanwhile, our political leadership has done little or nothing to take on the real problem – preventable medical errors that leave scores of North Carolinians injured or dead. We call on our General Assembly’s leadership to stop putting corporate profits above people.”
Ethics panel probes video
The State Ethics Commission is looking into whether veteran state Rep. Jim Crawford, a Democrat who represents Granville County, did anything wrong by using legislative aides in a video for a campaign advertisement while they were on state time.
Progress N.C., a liberal advocacy group, made a formal complaint to the ethics commission. Late last week, the organization released a letter from the commission formally notifying Crawford that he is under investigation .
Crawford, who is up for re-election, has said he doesn’t believe he did anything improper.
“Rep. Crawford has been in the legislature for decades. He should know the rules, but this is what happens when you get too cozy in Raleigh,” Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress N.C., said in a statement accompanying the letter.
The group has posted a video of Crawford’s campaign ad with added pop-up messages at http://bit.ly/IKaiyw.
First lady to give N.C. pep talk
First lady Michelle Obama will give a pep talk to North Carolina organizers and volunteers in her husband’s re-election campaign Monday.
The Obama campaign has set up a conference call for Monday afternoon between the first lady and campaign troops.
Bell gets endorsement
John Bell, a Goldsboro man challenging incumbent state Rep. Stephen LaRoque in the GOP primary, has picked up an endorsement from an incumbent Republican in a neighboring district. Rep. Efton Sager, a two-term representative from Goldsboro, issued a statement saying Bell is a proven leader and has the values needed for office.
LaRoque, a three-term member of the House and chairman of its Rules Committee, is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for how he operated nonprofit organizations that loaned federal money to businesses that had not been able to line up bank financing.
Staff writers Craig Jarvis and Rob Christensen
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