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Re: Medical malpractice; Our global military

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Re: Medical malpractice

While the medical malpractice bill described in Travis Fain's March 23 story ("Negligence, cap on damages, focus of malpractice reform bill") will definitely limit patients' rights, it will not cut health care costs.

Backers of the malpractice bill often point to Texas as a model for North Carolina to emulate. Yet "Texas-style" malpractice reform has led to escalating costs for consumers.

In 2003, Texas imposed a $250,000 cap on "noneconomic damages," including damages for death, disfigurement and permanent brain damage. One of the main rationales for the legislation was that a cap would bring down health care costs. But from 2003 through 2007, Medicare spending per enrollee in Texas increased 31.9 percent—far above the national average of 26.5 percent. During the same period, Medicare spending per enrollee in North Carolina grew 25.8 percent—below the national average.

What's more, North Carolina, without an artificial cap on damages, has a better record of attracting physicians. According to the American Medical Association, in the five years after Texas enacted caps and other radical malpractice reforms in 2003, the number of physicians per capita grew 2.6 percent faster in North Carolina than in Texas.

Bringing "Texas-style" malpractice reform to North Carolina will harm severely injured patients without making health care more affordable or accessible.

Burton Craige
Raleigh


Re: Our global military

"Why aren't we talking seriously about how overextended and arguably counterproductive is our global military presence?" The question is asked by Jonathan Weiler in his excellent article "Crank up the war machine: Libya" (March 23).

Quaker House brought exactly this question to Guilford College in January on the 50th anniversary of Eisenhower's farewell speech and dire warning about the rise of the military-industrial complex. The three-day conference explored a variety of issues we face in a nation dominated by militarism with a duopoly of Republicans and Democrats competing to run the war machine. See www.mic-at-50.net.

The January conference was co-sponsored by NC Peace Action (www.ncpeaceaction.org) and the Eisenhower Chapter of Veterans for Peace (NC Triangle). The Charlottesville, Va., Center for Peace and Justice is planning a similar weekend conference this September. Join us as we undertake "the hard work of re-examining our global empire."

John Heuer
Chair, NC Peace Action
Chapel Hill


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