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A bill introduced recently in the Indiana House of Representatives would provide liability protection for licensed volunteer health care providers in Indiana, who are committed to providing needed services to under served Hoosiers who cannot afford adequate medical care.

“More than 350,000 Hoosiers are considered ‘medically under served’ and simply cannot afford adequate health care,” said Dr. Chuck Dietzen, a globally-recognized Indiana pediatric specialist, who travels worldwide frequently to help others.legislative_update_banner_lores-e1379392942866

He continued, “As licensed health care professionals, who are sworn to help others regardless of their income or their illness, we want to be able to travel throughout the state of Indiana – just as we do globally – with the peace of mind and a reasonable level of legal protection while delivering the services people so desperately need.”

The purpose of House Bill 1145 is to provide a greater level of protection to hundreds of licensed volunteer health care providers throughout Indiana as they seek to provide Hoosiers with the same compassionate level of medical care as they do when traveling abroad.

Currently, Indiana law restricts licensed medical professionals from volunteering their services unless they purchase medical malpractice insurance. At the same time, those Hoosiers who are medically underserved are faced with no other options than to use an emergency room – often at taxpayer’s expense – for their primary care. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the average expense for all people who had one of more visits (in 2009) to an emergency room in Indiana was $1,318 per visit.

In addition to providing lawsuit protection to licensed medical professionals who volunteer their services at no cost to the taxpayers or to those being served, HB 1145 would serve all Hoosiers without insurance, as well as those who cannot afford the cost of a co pay or meet a deductible.

According to Dietzen, HB 1145 would save taxpayers money. The savings would come from individuals not having to use an emergency room for their primary health care needs.

“Throughout Indiana, there are thousands of health care professionals – including those who are retired – who would be able to provide a higher level of proper care to more of the people who need it,” added Dietzen. “And, they could deliver these vital services to people in surroundings that are familiar to them within the city or town in which they live.”

Dietzen explained that a provision of the bill would provide the opportunity for community-based and non-profit organizations to host volunteer medical clinics in their neighborhoods, at such places as a community center, food pantry or place of worship.

Another provision of the bill stipulates that the immunity would not apply in cases involving any damages that result from a person’s gross negligence or willful misconduct.

The bill is authored by Rep. David Frizzell (R-Dist. 93) and co-authored by Reps. Denny Zent (R-Dist. 51) and Thomas Washburne (R-Dist. 64).

Dietzen is encouraging others to contact their legislators to adopt the bill, adding that it’s a “…reasonable solution for expanding the delivery of needed health care services to both rural and urban communities across Indiana”.

In expressing his support for the legislation, Dietzen encouraged others to express their support for HB 1145 by contacting their State Representative or State Senator at:

Indiana House of Representatives – General Switchboard: (800) 382-9842 or the Office of Rep. Brian Bosma, Speaker of the House at (317) 232-9677

Indiana Senate – General Switchboard: (800) 382-9467 or the Office of Sen. David Long, President Pro Tempore at (317) 232-9416

“House Bill 1145 creates an unprecedented opportunity for thousands of Hoosier schoolchildren and adults to gain greater access to vital health care services and enjoy a higher quality of life,” Dietzen explained. “At the same time, we are able to make it possible for doctors, nurses and other first responders – licensed in the state of Indiana – to step forward and volunteer to help others right here at home…just as they do worldwide.”