State Representative Ron Young (R- Leroy Township) is announcing that legislation he is sponsoring to strengthen the operations of free clinics and allow Medicaid patients to have greater access to healthcare options has passed through the Ohio House Health and Aging Committee.

There are four major provisions of the bill:

1. Doctors would receive the exemptions from liability under the provisions of Ohio’s Good Samaritan Act when they treat Medicaid patients.
2. In order to encourage more volunteerism, the bill extends Ohio’s tuition repayment program to doctors and dentists volunteering at free clinics.
3. Establishes December as “Free Clinic Appreciation Month.”
4. Creates a volunteer certificate for retired nurses, and allows Medicaid patients to be treated by doctors and dentists with volunteer certificates.

“Free clinics play a critical role in the delivery of health care in Ohio. They help to reduce inappropriate use of hospital emergency rooms and provide critically needed care,” Rep. Young said. “When people are healthy, they are better able to hold a job and be more active in their community, which benefits all of us.”

“This will go a long way in increasing volunteerism in free clinics statewide, while expanding services to more patients including Medicaid patients,” said Johanna Henz, executive director for Lake County Free Clinic Free Clinic. “Awareness Month will increase public awareness of the services and capabilities of free clinics.”

Groups that have supported H.B. 320 include the Ohio Association of Free Clinics, the Ohio Osteopathic Association, the Ohio State Medical Association, the Ohio Nurses Association and the Ohio Dental Association.

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