NEW BILL HOPES TO BRING NEARLY $43 MILLION IN FREE HEALTH CARE TO POOR SOUTH CAROLINIANS
- BY FGA
COMMON-SENSE BILL PROTECTS AND INCENTIVIZES HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS WHEN DONATING CARE TO LOW-INCOME PATIENTS
Low-income patients in South Carolina look to benefit from an estimated $42.9 million and over 75,000 visits a year in free health care donated by local health professionals thanks to the “Volunteer Care” bill signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley. The bill is modeled after a Florida program that has been responsible for bringing nearly $1.3 billion of free care to poor individuals in that state.
H4999 improves access to care by incentivizing providers to donate their time and talents serving low-income, uninsured, and underinsured patients by offering modest credits towards their license renewal. The program also protects those doctors, nurses, dentists, mental health providers, and more by protecting them from lawsuits while they provide free care, unless they are grossly negligent or commit willful misconduct.
“I’m so excited that we are finally going to protect, thank, and encourage all of our exceptional health care professionals for the wonderful charity work they do in South Carolina communities,” said Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, the bill’s chief sponsor in the House.
“It’s so encouraging to see our Legislature and the Governor come together to support a program designed to help low-income folks in our state, finding creative and proven solutions to help them get access to a range of health care services while still being good stewards of taxpayer resources.”
By providing common-sense liability protections for medical professionals who voluntarily serve those in need and allowing these professionals to claim continuing education hours for time donated, we can help ensure that more of our friends and neighbors receive high-quality medical care.
“This legislation will help South Carolinians living in rural and underserved areas find more opportunities for charity care from doctors, specialists, dentists, and more,” said Sen. Ray Cleary, who sponsored the companion bill, SB357, that passed the Senate in 2015.
“This program is simple a win-win-win, as it protects our talented health care professionals, low-income patients, and taxpayers. I can’t wait to see the lives touched by our work.”
Many South Carolinians live in medically underserved communities or struggle to receive the care they need because of administrative red tape, and this new law should help provide health professionals with adequate protection as they go out and serve these communities. This is why H4999 passed both chambers unanimously with a total vote of 136-0.