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News: Senate bill would reduce liability risk for medical volunteers

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A bill was introduced in July in the U.S. Senate to award $600,000 state grants to create medical volunteer programs for which the state would assume medical liability.

Volunteering your services may soon be a little less risky. A bill was introduced in July in the U.S. Senate to award $600,000 state grants to create medical volunteer programs for which the state would assume medical liability. The "Volunteer Health Care Program Act of 2008," introduced by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), was inspired by Florida's charitable immunity program, which reportedly costs the state $600,000 to $900,000 a year, according to Enzi, but has provided more than $1 billion in care during the past 16 years. Lee Johnson, a health-care attorney in Mt. Kisco, New York, who specializes in risk-management issues, says the bill, if passed and signed into law, may help ease the strain on overburdened emergency departments. "Retired doctors would not need to purchase part-time insurance or else look to the clinics for insurance," Johnson says.

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