States Work To Cut Red Tape for Emergency Care Providers
State lawmakers are working to remove barriers that prevent volunteer health care personnel from providing assistance after a disaster in a state in which they are not licensed to work, USA Today reports.
The initiative stems from a proposal introduced last year by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, which drafts model legislation for states.
The re-examination of state laws began after volunteer medical workers who wanted to provide assistance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were restricted from entering Louisiana because of work authorization and liability concerns.
New state laws will enable physicians, other primary care providers, nurses, pharmacists, emergency medical technicians, coroners and veterinarians to enroll into a federal registry that will allow them to receive clearance for work in states other than their own. The laws also will protect them from possible lawsuits.
Colorado, Kentucky and Tennessee already have passed such measures into law, and a law in California is awaiting the governor's approval, USA Today reports. Supporters of the proposal anticipate that 20 other states will discuss the legislation next year. Under the regulations, state health officials will be able to check the national registry to ensure that all volunteer medical workers are permitted to offer their services and that they are appropriately insured.
NCCUSL member Raymond Pepe, recalling the situation in Louisiana after Katrina, said that "in the fog of war, so to speak, people didn't know what the rules were" (Hall, USA Today, 10/9).