State Sen. Susan Paddack said she was extremely pleased that Gov. Brad Henry signed Senate Bill 930 into law. The tort reform bill would protect health care providers who do charity work. Paddack, D-Ada, was principal author of SB 930.
“There are doctors throughout this state who want to help fill that need for volunteer services, but may hesitate to do so because of the fear of becoming the target of a frivolous lawsuit,” Paddack said. “SB 930 will give them the protection they need.”
Under SB 930, health care providers will have the same legal protection as volunteer firefighters and medical students currently covered by the Governmental Tort Claims Act.
“Access to healthcare and lawsuit reform have intersected with this legislation which will help address both of these issues,” Paddack said. “Oklahoma is currently ranked fourth in the nation in terms of the percentage of population without insurance. There are currently not enough free-clinics to help these individuals who often use emergency rooms as their primary source for health care. It is causing an incredible strain on ER’s.”
According to the organization Health Alliance for the Uninsured, a study of emergency rooms in Oklahoma County showed that 53 percent of ER visits are for non-emergency symptoms. More than 106,000 of those visits were by patients who were uninsured or underinsured—half were patients younger than 20.
“The need for this tort protection and the resulting access to health care it will provide is very real. I want to thank my House author, Rep. Doug Cox, the Legislature and Governor Henry for their work to get this bill through the process.”
SB 930 will take effect on November 1, 2007.