A new program aims to support providers and facilities interested in offering volunteer healthcare services to low-income patients through a new legal liability option.
The creation of Wyoming’s Volunteer Health Services Program was approved earlier this year by the Wyoming Legislature.
“Many healthcare providers and facility operators may be concerned with legal liability for volunteer services,” said Sen. Tara Nethercott (R-04). “Those type of concerns should not be a barrier for someone who wants to share their expertise and time by offering needed medical help.”
The program allows licensed healthcare providers and medical facilities to provide volunteer services for low-income Wyoming residents while being protected from liability for medical negligence under the state’s sovereign immunity.
By entering into a contract with the state, volunteer providers are deemed public employees and facilities are deemed state medical facilities for purposes of what’s known as the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act. “Any malpractice claim arising from uncompensated services rendered to eligible patients would be defended and paid by the state under the Governmental Claims Act,” said Tom Forslund, Wyoming Department of Health director.
Any healthcare provider, including physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, optometrists, psychiatrists and psychologists, who is licensed or certified by Wyoming law is eligible to enter into a contract under the program. Eligible facilities include hospitals, clinics, medical offices and nursing homes.
Services provided under the program are intended for low-income persons. An eligible patient:
- Has income at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level
- Is not covered under a health insurance or healthcare policy, contract or plan
- Is covered under a health insurance or healthcare policy, contract or plan, but was denied coverage by the policy, contract or plan
Eligibility is determined by volunteer providers or facilities based on information from patients.
More information and important forms can be found on the Wyoming Department of Health website at https://health.wyo.gov/admin/wyomings-volunteer-health-services-program/.