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(AUSTIN, Texas – March 11, 2019) Ensuring timely access to essential health care services during natural or manmade disasters is the focus of a bill that will be heard today in the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston). Cameron Duncan, III, J.D. assistant general counsel for the Texas Hospital Association, and Beau Briese, M.D., emergency medicine physician, Houston Methodist Hospital, will testify in support of Senate Bill 752, by Sen. Huffman, which would provide liability protection for volunteer health care professionals and the facilities that sponsor the care during a disaster.
“SB 752 encourages licensed health care professionals in good standing to volunteer their expertise when it is needed most,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “Ensuring timely access to quality health care for all Texans, regardless of location or circumstance is a priority for all Texas hospitals.”
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, volunteer health care professionals from around the nation rushed to help, and the need was great. The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that more than 5,300 Texans needed health care services during rescue and recovery efforts. Despite this, many health care professionals who were not affiliated with nonprofit organizations ultimately chose not to volunteer for fear for potential liability.
Existing laws limit liability for volunteer health care professionals who are affiliated with nonprofit organizations and for facilities with nonprofit status. SB 752 would extend liability protections—unless there is reckless conduct or intentional, willful, or wanton misconduct—for volunteer health care professionals who are not affiliated with established nonprofit organizations, particularly those who practice out of state; facilities that do not hold nonprofit status; health care professionals volunteering in conditions where it is unsuitable to utilize a consent form.
The Texas Hospital Association and the Texas Medical Association partnered with Sen. Huffman and Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress) to file SB 752 and its companion, House Bill 1353.
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents 452 of the state’s non-federal general and specialty hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 400,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at www.tha.org or follow THA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/texashospitals.