Posts Tagged ‘Good Samaritan laws’

Remote Area Medical Brings Healthcare Services to Needy Locales – Including Chicago

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

New Illinois law lets doctors cross state lines to take care of the uninsured.  A prime example of why access to quality healthcare needs to be expanded is an ambitious effort to hold an enormous, free medical event in Chicago.  The proposed event, sponsored by Remote Area Medical (R.A.M.), can move ahead now that Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law making Illinois the second state to allow healthcare professionals licensed in other states to volunteer their services without obtaining official authorization. This change to Illinois’ Good Samaritan laws, which applies to out-of-state physicians providing charity care at free clinics, will directly help the 1.6 million Illinois residents who lack healthcare insurance.

Knoxville, TN-based R.A.M. brings free health, dental and vision care to geographically isolated areas around the world.  Last year, the organization broadened its scope to include large U.S. cities by holding a clinic in Los Angeles where more than 6,000 people received treatment.  Now, a group of Chicago physicians want to have a similar event in Chicago.  “Any time you can take a speed bump out, take away borders from healthcare, it helps,” said Dr. Ken Nelson, medical director at the Community Nurse Adult Clinic in LaGrange, IL.  “Not everybody is going to get insurance.”  One in six of Illinoisians under the age of 65 is uninsured.  Of those, 80 percent are in working families and 25 percent are children.

“The greatest impediment to what R.A.M. does, except here in Tennessee where they had the good sense to change the law back in 1995, is that for some extraordinary reason, a doctor, dentist – even nurses who are licensed to the same standards – are not allowed to cross state lines to provide free care for people in another state,” said Stan Brock, R.A.M.’s founder.  Ending these restrictions leads to “a quantum leap in volunteerism in this country.”