Physicians, dentists, and other medical professionals are ready, willing, and able to donate their time to care for low-income patients. Florida’s Volunteer Health Services program is one example how innovative solutions can leverage existing medical resources to maximum effect.
Since the reforms were enacted in 1992, millions of low-income patients have gained access to needed medical care. The state was able to secure free care for patients valued at more than $2.6 billion not by expanding or creating welfare programs, but by unleashing the power of private charity.
Many states already have the basic infrastructure to build on Florida’s successes. If they followed Florida’s lead, millions of additional low-income patients could soon find access to free, privately-donated charity care.
Policymakers everywhere should follow the Sunshine State’s example and strengthen legal protections for medical volunteers and ensure professionals can use volunteer hours to satisfy continuing education requirements. These reforms will not only provide needed care to underserved populations, they will also strengthen professionals’ commitment to their communities.