In exciting news for low-income Kansas residents, a bill setting up a program that would mirror Florida’s Volunteer Health Services in the Sunflower State has passed both house of the state’s legislature and been approved by the governor. The bill, which began as HB 2615 in the House, was signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback earlier this month.
Florida’s Volunteer Health Services program is one example of how innovative solutions can leverage existing medical resources to maximum effect and deliver the care needed for many of the most vulnerable in our society. Thousands of low-income Kansans lack adequate access to affordable health care, but there is no shortage of physicians, dentists, and other medical professionals ready, willing and able to donate their time to care for underserved patients. This new law helps bring the two together.
The law allows charitable health care providers and dentists to fulfill one hour of their continuing education credit for two hours of gratuitous service to medically indigent persons throughout the state’s 105 counties.
By unleashing the power of private charity, the Florida law has been able to secure free care for patients valued at more than $2.6 billion. Most importantly, it has done so without expanding or creating more welfare programs.
In 2014, medical professionals in Florida provided nearly 470,000 free visits, with the value of donated goods and services totaling nearly $298 million. The program’s low legal costs (malpractice suits are virtually nonexistent) and administrative costs mean that VHS provides $614 in privately donated care for every on dollar spent by the taxpayer.
Kansas can expect similar success, with their poorest citizens benefitting from the free care they were unable to receive before this law’s passage.
The Sunflower State already has the generous health care providers willing to bring their services to those in need, and with Governor Sam Brownback’s signature, those doctors, nurses, and dentists can begin reaching out to their underserved communities, providing the care that is so desperately needed.