House Bill 320, sponsored by Representative Ron Young (R-Leroy), was passed by both the House and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support on December 4th, 2014. It was signed by the Governor on December 18th, 2014, and becomes effective March 23rd, 2015. The bill made changes to the law regarding free clinics, with the goal of increasing volunteerism and providing better access to care for those that need it.

The legislation protects medical professionals from lawsuits while treating patients in a free clinic by extending qualified immunity from civil liability to medical professionals who volunteer without pay at a free clinic to indigent and uninsured patients. HB 320 includes those eligible for/ or receiving Medicaid in that definition. This will keep medical professionals protected and allow those with limited access to care to have greater opportunity for treatment.

Doctors and dentists will now be eligible for loan repayment for work in a free clinic. Each free clinic, regardless of location, will be designated as a health or dental shortage area under the Ohio Department of Health, which will earn healthcare workers in free clinics eligibility in the ODH Physician and Dentist Loan Repayment program.

A retired nurse will have the ability to get a free volunteer license through the Ohio Department of Health, allowing them to continue a limited volunteer practice at no cost to them.

“I was excited to sponsor this legislation, and even more excited to see it become law,” said Rep. Young. “Free clinics are an integral part of the medical delivery system in Ohio, and this bill will continue to support their exceptional efforts.”


Free clinics around the state praised the bill, and Rep. Young for his efforts:

“We are so grateful for the leadership of Rep. Ron Young and Governor John Kasich in ensuring the availability of high quality health care for all Ohioans. We are both proud and appreciative of our position in our state’s health care delivery system. This legislation will enable an increase in volunteerism and awareness of free clinics, which ultimately leads to a healthier Ohio.” (Johanna Henz, Lake County Free Clinic)

"We are blessed so that we may be a blessing to others.  Volunteering at the free clinic is a way to work this out in practical terms." (Dr. David McClure, The Bridge Free Clinic)

"Free Clinics depend on volunteer medical providers.  The provisions in HB320 add value to these medical professionals and the time they donate to care for our patients.  Thank you to Ohio’s state lawmakers - our House of Representatives, our State Senators, and our Governor for supporting the passage of HB320.  This bill is a proactive and positive step for ensuring basic healthcare services for the uninsured population at free clinics across Ohio”  (Melissa Canney, Executive Director, Madison County Health Partners).

“Thanks for remembering some of the best medical professionals come from the boots on the ground experience at Free Clinics in Ohio.  HB320 gives back to dedicated providers who already care, but want to learn more about community health and participate for building better health outcomes with vulnerable populations.”

“As a medical director of a free clinic, I am very excited about the changes provided in HB 320 that enhances our ability to provide free care for the Ohioans who continue to fall through the cracks in our health care system. Everyone deserves healthcare and, thankfully, many volunteer medical providers have rallied to fill this gap. Ohio’s legislators have seen this need and have taken action to work together with free clinics to be a part of the solution to provide care for all.” (Sharon Sherlock, Executive Director, Reach Out of Montgomery County)

I am very excited to have an outstanding new doctor join Faithful Servants Care Center as a part-time physician. Dr. Tucker has a heart to serve the uninsured and thanks to HB 320 reorganizing free clinics as areas of need, she will be able to apply for physician loan reimbursement to help pay back her medical school debt while working in South Akron. Residents like her are finishing up their medical education in debt to the tune of $200,000 or more. Because of this, many of these new doctors find it necessary to go to areas that will support their financial need to pay off their debt. House Bill 320 is helping us recruit young doctors who would like to serve in need areas and assist them to be able to afford to do so.” (Faithful Servants Care Center, Tallmadge, OH)

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