Murkowski Seeks to Empower Medical Volunteers During Disasters

Alaska Health Care Providers Applaud Senator’s Legislation to Get Best Treatment for Americans During Emergencies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today introduced the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act four days after the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s Good Friday earthquake – to protect volunteer health care providers assisting in disaster areas from civil liability when providing care outside their home community to victims. The bill would allow health professionals to use their medical liability insurance across state lines when volunteering after a serious disaster.

“In Alaska, there is a longstanding physician shortage which already makes it difficult for Alaskans to access medical care. If a serious natural disaster were to shake Alaska, there would not be enough volunteers to assist those who really need it. This bill would allow health care professionals to cross state lines and use their hard earned skills to help out.”

Murkowski went on to say that “the importance of helping one another during trying times has always been recognized. This is just one way for us to empower those volunteering their services. The last thing we want to do is inhibit health care professionals from using their knowledge to help.”

The Alaska State Medical Association also supports this legislation, “given Alaska’s geographic size and transportation challenges, it is vital to minimize the number of hurdles in getting qualified healthcare providers to a disaster scene as soon as possible. This legislation reduces those hurdles, by clarifying federal policy and providing civil impunity for volunteers who cross state lines to provide aid”.

The Greater Fairbanks Hospital Foundation lauded Murkowski saying “thank you for taking charge on this issue and introducing the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act of 2014”.

This bill would allow for a health care provider’s professional liability insurance to carry across state lines during a declared disaster or emergency. There is a bipartisan companion bill in the House called The Good Samaritan Health Professional Act (HR 1733) which was introduced in the 113th Congress by Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Jim Matheson (D-UT).