Legislation Would Address Physician Liability For Access Programs

The NCMS worked with Buncombe County Medical Society CEO Miriam Schwarz in 2008 to present information to the Joint Legislative Health Care Oversight Committee about the work of the 13 Access Programs in North Carolina. One challenge confronted by these networks is that the Good Samaritan statute does not explicitly apply to the doctors accepting referrals from the programs. During Ms. Schwarz testimony, questions from legislators demonstrated there may be some interest in addressing this problem. The NCMS wrote to Senator Rand on March 4, 2009 asking him to consider legislation to address the issue. Here is the letter (pdf)

On March 24, 2009, Senator Rand (D, Cumberland) introduced Senate Bill 802 to provide limited immunity to physicians that participate in a “nonprofit community health referral serve” for indigent patients. The bill would extend the same protection to the doctors in these networks as is provided to doctors accepting charity referrals from Community Health Centers and other sources. 


Specifically, the bill defines a “nonprofit community health referral service” as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization organized to provide for no charge the referral of low income, uninsured patients to volunteer health care providers who provide health care services without charge to patients. 


The NCMS believes this bill will help encourage physician participation in Access Programs. 


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