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States To Reduce Red Tape In Allowing Emergency Responders To Provide Assistance

Armen Hareyan's picture

State lawmakers are working to remove barriers that prevent volunteerhealth care personnel from providing assistance after a disaster in astate 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.

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There-examination of state laws began after volunteer medical workers whowanted to provide assistance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005were restricted from entering Louisiana because of work authorizationand liability concerns. New state laws will enable physicians, otherprimary care providers, nurses, pharmacists, emergency medicaltechnicians, coroners and veterinarians to enroll into a federalregistry that will allow them to receive clearance for work in statesother than their own. The laws also will protect them from possiblelawsuits.

Colorado, Kentucky and Tennessee already have passedsuch measures into law, and a law in California is awaiting thegovernor's approval, USA Today reports. Supporters of theproposal anticipate that 20 other states will discuss the legislationnext year. Under the regulations, state health officials will be ableto check the national registry to ensure that all volunteer medicalworkers are permitted to offer their services and that they areappropriately insured. NCCUSL member Raymond Pepe, recalling thesituation in Louisiana after Katrina, said that "in the fog of war, soto speak, people didn't know what the rules were" (Hall, USA Today, 10/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.