Relief in Sight for Federally Qualified Health Centers

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , December 11, 2013

A 2009 Government Accountability Office report found that only 7% of FQHCs reported using volunteers. In addition, supports of the bill say there is virtually no fiscal note attached to the legislation. The GAO estimated that nationally "an additional $6 million would be paid in claims and lawsuits from fiscal years 2009 through 2013 if FTCA coverage were expanded to FQHC volunteers. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the expansion would result in claim and lawsuit costs of less than $500,000 in fiscal year 2009, $1 million in each of fiscal years 2010 and 2011, and $2 million in each of fiscal years 2012 and 2013." 

The Family Health Care Accessibility Act could be funded from health centers' annual appropriations. Without the liability protections, the National Association of Community Health Centers and other supporters of the bill say that medical malpractice insurance for physician-volunteers at CHCs could cost as much as $100,000, reducing the number of professional healthcare volunteers at a time when health centers are expanding services and access to meet the growing needs of their

An earlier version of the bill in the 111th Congress passed the House 417-1 but bogged down as the session expired. According to an arcane formula, the newest version of the bill has only an 8% chance of clearing the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, where only 11% of bills emerged and only 3% were enacted in 2011–13.

However, the bill has broad bipartisan support, starting with sponsors, Rep. Tim Murphy, (R-PA), and Gene Green, (D-TX), and they're confident it will pass this session and become law. "The Family Health Care Accessibility Act is exactly the kind of bipartisan reform that Congress should pass so low-incomes families and children have access to quality affordable coverage," Murphy said in a media release touting the bill.

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2 comments on "Relief in Sight for Federally Qualified Health Centers"

Todd (12/16/2013 at 5:12 PM)
Makes sense. Medicaid beneficiaries are more likely to sue.

Stefani Daniels (12/12/2013 at 11:27 AM)
Finally - a great idea!! As a Vermonter, home to several FQHCs, I know that this legislation will extend community access to services not otherwise available.




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