As many of you know, for a number of years, health center advocates have been working to get Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) coverage extended to volunteers in health centers. In essence, this would mean that when physicians volunteer at health centers, the federal government would be responsible for their malpractice coverage as is already the case for any health center employees. In last year’s health centers’ reauthorization, the House version actually included FTCA coverage for volunteers, but the provision was not included in the version that became law.
This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee adopted an amendment by Subcommittee Chairman Frank Pallone which included FTCA coverage for volunteers at health centers- a great success on an issue that is smaller in the context of all of health reform, but still big news for CHCs around the country. This language was based on a bill introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and was championed by Rep. Gene Green of Texas, the Democratic co-sponsor of the legislation. There will be many steps to go before this provision becomes law, but its inclusion is just one of many important “nuggets” for health centers contained in the health reform legislation.