Physicians have always provided charity health care. They continue to see established patients who have lost their health insurance, or they agree to care for a fellow physician’s patient who needs specialized care. The care network used to be informal, and arranging care for a single patient was time-consuming and often frustrating. Project Access West Tennessee coordinates charity health care for uninsured, low-income residents who have no other resource for health care. Organized by the Memphis Medical Society and Memphis Medical Foundation, Project Access brings together area hospital systems, rehabilitation facilitates, community health centers, the heath department, and physicians.
Why do Doctors Participate in Project Access?
- Project Access allows you and your group to efficiently manage and track the charity care that you have always provided.
- Project Access allows you to define the amount of charity care that you are able and willing to provide.
- Project Access creates a whole network of providers and healthcare services that are automatically available to you and your Project Access charity patients.
- Project Access screens potential charity care patients before they are referred to you, verifying that they meet financial, residential, and healthcare need criteria.
- Project Access charity care patients are eligible for services for a specific period of time and only as long as they continue to meet program criteria.
- Project Access tracks both the nature and dollar value of the charity care so your efforts can be recognized and to ensure that the care is documented so physicians can receive protection under the Volunteer Health Services Act (see below). This information is also a powerful tool to advance issues of importance to providers.
- Project Access allows for an equitable distribution of services by physicians, hospitals, and other providers when attending to the needs of the underserved in our community.
- Project Access prevents any single physicians, physician group, hospital or other provider from being asked to provide more than a fair share of charity care.
- Project Access creates an infrastructure that helps our entire community, including business, governments, media, and educational institutions, to support the provision of charity healthcare services.
- The Tennessee General Assembly recognized the value of charity care by passing legislation that provides liability protection for physicians for charity care provided through a coordinated program such as Project Access.
- It’s the right thing to do!
Liability Protection through the Volunteer Health Care Services Act
The Volunteer Health Care Services Act was passed in 1995 through the work of the Medical Society and the Tennessee Medical Association. It provides significant liability protection to physicians and other healthcare professionals who donate their services through a sponsoring organization registered with the state. Project Access is one of those organizations.
The act provides that a physicians who engages in the voluntary provision of donated health care services within the limits of his/her license to a patient of a sponsoring organization is not liable for any civil damages to a patient except for cases of gross negligence of willful misconduct.
The volunteer physician may not receive compensation or consideration of any type for the free patient care. Project Access documents that the care was coordinated through our program via HCFA-1500 and UB-04 forms so it is very important to submit documentation!