June 2008

Grant Results

SUMMARY

Between July 2006 and October 2007, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws drafted and disseminated a recommended state statute called the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act that states can adopt — with modifications if they wish — to license qualified volunteer health practitioners so they can provide services during a declared emergency, if they are deployed in coordination with agencies responsible for managing the emergency.

To facilitate the deployment and use of volunteers, the act protects them from exposure to liability for negligence and extends compensation coverage to them when other workers' compensation benefits are otherwise not available.

Key Results

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this unsolicited project with a grant of $100,195 from July 2006 through October 2007.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which struck the southern United States in 2005, highlighted the need to ensure that medical "surge capacity" was available where necessary. Although medical professionals employed by the U.S. Public Health Services, the Armed Forces and state and local governments provided much-needed services, the magnitude of the disaster swamped their ability to handle relief operations effectively.

Thousands of private sector medical professionals immediately volunteered, but state-based emergency response systems lacked a uniform process and legal framework to recognize out-of-state professional licenses. In some jurisdictions, deployment of volunteer health personnel was inhibited because the volunteers were not adequately protected against liability claims or their own risks of injury.

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THE PROJECT

Between July 2006 and October 2007, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws drafted and disseminated a state model act concerning the practice of volunteer health care personnel during emergencies. The commissioners conducted extensive legal research and consulted with a wide range of public officials and representatives of volunteer organizations active in disasters, health provider organizations and bar groups before completing their work.

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws is a Chicago-based nonpartisan organization that works to bring clarity, stability and uniformity to critical areas of state law.

The American Bar Association endorsed the model act in August 2006.

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RESULTS

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws:

  • Drafted the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act, with section-by-section commentary, as a model for state legislatures. The act was designed to remove roadblocks to interstate recognition of volunteer health care professionals during emergencies. The act allows states to license qualified volunteer health practitioners if they are deployed in coordination with agencies responsible for managing the emergency. It can also can also help provide medical "surge capacity" when needed. States can modify the act if they wish.

    To facilitate the deployment and use of volunteers, the act protects them from exposure to liability for negligence and extends compensation coverage to them when other workers' compensation benefits are otherwise not available.
  • Developed a Web site that includes the model act and up-to-date information on testimony and legislative activities. The site includes a tracking system to identify the states that have introduced or enacted the model act.
  • Distributed the text of the draft act to all state legislatures.

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AFTER THE GRANT

As of May 2008, six states (Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico Tennessee and Utah) have enacted the uniform act; Minnesota has enacted portions of the act; and eight other state legislatures were considering it.

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws continues to maintain the Web site about the model act, and tracks relevant media coverage, testimony and state activities. Conference representatives have formed an Enactment Committee to provide expert testimony before state legislatures and to assist others, such as representatives of medical associations, as they prepare to testify.

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws is a member of the Emergency Volunteer Action Network, formed after the grant period to support initiatives designed to improve emergency preparedness by protecting volunteers from liability.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Uniform Interstate Act to Grant Volunteer Health Workers Quick Interstate Recognition and Protection and Ensure Surge Capacity During Emergencies

Grantee

National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (Chicago,  IL)

  • Amount: $ 100,195
    Dates: July 2006 to October 2007
    ID#:  057186

Contact

William H. Henning, L.L.M., J.D.
(205) 348-1118
bhenning@law.ua.edu

Web Site

http://www.uevhpa.org

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Articles

Hodge J Jr, Pepe RP and Henning WH. "Volunteerism in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina: The Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act." Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 1(1): 44–50, 2007.

Reports

Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act. Chicago: National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, 2007. Available online.

World Wide Web Sites

www.uevhpa.org. The Web site includes the model legislation, up-to-date information on testimony and legislative activities and a tracking system to identify the states that have introduced or enacted the model act. Chicago: National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

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Report prepared by: Carl A. Taylor
Reviewed by: Karyn Feiden
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Russell A. Brewer