Here’s good news: there’s a really good, bipartisan and common sense thing going on in Congress! A Republican, Senator John Thune, and a Democrat, Senator Bob Casey, recently introduced legislation (Senate Bill 955) that would extend the Federal Tort Claims Act medical malpractice insurance coverage now in place at Federally Qualified Health Clinics, such as Care for the Homeless, to cover professional health care providers who are willing to volunteer at these health centers. The same bill is about to be introduced in the House in Washington, too.
This legislation that they’re calling the Family Health Care Accessibility Act recognizes that the 1,200 nonprofit community health centers serve about 22 million individuals who would often otherwise lack access to health care. For example, Care for the Homeless serves between 8-and-10,000 homeless individuals annually with high-quality client-centered care who, without our clinics, would probably not receive primary health care.
This proposed law will allow coverage for doctors, dentists, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and other health care professionals who would volunteer their valuable services at clinics like ours. Without it, most health care professionals willing to volunteer simply cannot reasonably do so.
Providing appropriate high-quality health care to people in need is not a partisan issue. Encouraging volunteerism allows for greater health care access and lowers public costs. It’s the right thing and the common sense thing to do. CFH Executive Director Bobby Watts has contacted every member of the New York congressional delegation urging them to co-sponsor and support this legislation.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The same bill passed the House last session with only 1 negative vote, but wasn’t voted on in the Senate. Please add your voice by contacting your Senators and Representatives asking that they, too, champion this good, common sense legislation.