A total of seven amendments were offered during the lengthy debate on the bill. Of note was an amendment offered by Rep. Grey Mills (R-Iredell) which proposed exemptions to the $500,000 noneconomic cap outlined in the bill. A similar amendment narrowly failed in the House Select Committee on Tort Reform just a week ago after sponsors of the bill including Rep. Johnathan Rhyne (R-Lincoln) and Rep. Danny McComas (R-New Hanover) pointed out that the amendment could undermine the predictability of a cap that is a contributor to lowering health care costs. The outcome flipped this time with 67 members voting favorably and 49 voting against the amendment. The amendment as adopted is too vague and too broad to provide the predictability necessary to reduce health care costs. The NCMS will continue to advocate for a cap without broad exemptions. Click here to see a comparison of the bill as passed by the Senate and the House.
The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence because of the changes made by the House. The NCMS does not expect the Senate to concur with the House changes. That means that SB 33 will go to a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. Conferees from each of the chambers will be named to do the negotiating. After negotiations are complete, the bill will be sent back to both chambers for a single up or down vote.
NCMS will continue to advocate for strong, proven reforms that will lead to lower healthcare costs for all North Carolinians. Look for further action alerts once the conference committee has been named. We need you to stay in the game to the end. We have come too far to stop now. Look for an update coming early next week. Thanks to all of the individual physicians, state-based specialties and our other coalition partners.