Baker bill will streamline help during disasters


First Posted: 1/21/2014

When a major snowstorm or other natural disaster strikes, Pennsylvania will have a streamlined system for accepting help from neighboring states under a bill introduced by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20).

The legislation, Senate Bill 1235, will allow doctors, veterinarians and other health care workers to provide immediate emergency health care to victims of a declared disaster by creating a Volunteer Health Practitioner Registry System.

After Katrina hit New Orleans, many states enacted legislation similar to Baker’s to allow health care professionals to enter states that have suffered a declared disaster and provide services without having to scale a host of legal and licensing hurdles. During and after many major crises, licensure boards have been overwhelmed with requests or have closed temporarily because of the disaster.

Under the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act (UEVHPA), the Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) would be able to regulate the length of time and the geographic area in which volunteer emergency health practitioners can serve. To ensure quality care, the health practitioners would have to be licensed and in good standing in their home state.

This language was developed by the Uniform Law Commission and has been adopted in 14 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The bill is endorsed by numerous health, legal and emergency response organizations, including the American Red Cross, the ASPCA, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the United Way of America.

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