senate Bill S4351

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Relates to the liability of health care practitioner volunteers

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Actions

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 08, 2014 referred to health
Mar 21, 2013 referred to health

S4351 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A8252
Current Committee:
Senate Health
Law Section:
Public Health Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง260, Pub Health L
Versions Introduced in 2011-2012 Legislative Session:
S7028

S4351 - Bill Texts

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Relates to the liability of health care practitioner volunteers.

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BILL NUMBER:S4351

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public health law, in relation to
the liability of health care practitioner volunteers

PURPOSE: This bill is intended to promote the development and
expansion of volunteer health care practitioner programs throughout
the state by removing the costly requirement that volunteers provide
their own professional liability insurance.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill amends subdivision 4 of section 260
of the public health law by removing the requirement that a volunteer
health care practitioner who participates in a health care
practitioner volunteer program maintain his or her own professional
liability insurance policy. Under this proposal, these volunteers
would be deemed "employees" under the public officers law in order to
afford them the same indemnity protections as state employees.

EXISTING LAW: Current law requires volunteer health care
practitioners to maintain their own professional liability insurance.

JUSTIFICATION: Created by special legislation in 2002 (Chapter 337),
the Schenectady Health Care Practitioner Volunteer Project (also known
as the Schenectady Free Clinic) served as a model for a statute
enacted in 2008 (Chapter 225) which authorizes the Commissioner of
Health to approve other such volunteer health care practitioner
programs throughout the State.

In the case of the Schenectady Free Clinic, volunteer physicians,
nurses and other health care professionals serve the health and
wellness needs of the County's uninsured by providing free access to
medical care services to persons not otherwise receiving medical care
through established programs. The Clinic provides, without charge,
primary medical care and referral specialty care services from a
network of participating practitioners and institutions. The Clinic
receives financial support from a combination of governmental,
private, foundation and grant funding to cover their operating
expenses. its only paid employee is the Executive Director.

Despite successful local fundraising, the Clinic continues to struggle
financially. The cost of medical malpractice insurance is currently
$35,000-$40,000 a year out of the Clinic's roughly $550,000 annual
budget. If additional practitioners are added to the team of
volunteers (many of whom are retired) the medical malpractice expenses
will increase.

In over 35,000 patient visits, the Clinic and its volunteers have
never been sued. Many states provide liability protection to volunteer
health care providers. Notably, the State of Florida successfully
encourages voluntarism on the part of health care providers to serve
the medically indigent by granting these providers "sovereign
immunity" for uncompensated services rendered to certain needy
clients.

Granting volunteer health care practitioners protection from liability
as they carry out their volunteer activities would encourage more


health care providers to volunteer their time, and help alleviate some
of the financial burden on volunteer clinics such as the Schenectady
Free Clinic, thereby helping to assure their continued success in
service to the uninsured in the community.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: S. 7028 of 2012 remained in Health Committee.
Similar language was included in Senate bill S. 7426-A of 2006.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Unknown. To date, the sponsor is not aware of
any successful claims against volunteer health practitioners operating
in volunteer health care practitioner programs authorized under this
section of the Public Health Law.

LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  4351

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             March 21, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  FARLEY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Health

AN ACT to amend the public health law, in relation to the  liability  of
  health care practitioner volunteers

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Subdivision 4 of section 260 of the public health  law,  as
amended  by  chapter  84  of  the  laws  of  2006, is amended to read as
follows:
  4. [No health care practitioner volunteer  shall  participate  in  the
health  care practitioner volunteer program established pursuant to this
title unless, with respect  to  acts  and  omissions  that  occurred  or
allegedly  occurred within the scope of his or her participation in such
program, he or she is covered  by  an  adequate  professional  liability
insurance  policy.] A HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER VOLUNTEER SHALL BE DEEMED
TO BE AN "EMPLOYEE" FOR PURPOSES OF  SECTION  SEVENTEEN  OF  THE  PUBLIC
OFFICERS  LAW  WITH  RESPECT  TO ANY ACTS AND OMISSIONS THAT OCCURRED OR
ALLEGEDLY OCCURRED WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS OR HER PARTICIPATION IN  SUCH
PROGRAM.
  S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.




 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD10011-01-3

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