House approves bill on free medical services

Posted: Monday, May 19, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Retired doctors could volunteer their services without the fear of civil lawsuits under a bill approved by the House on Sunday.

House Bill 260 aims to encourage retired doctors to continue to provide free medical services to the elderly and poor in their communities. The measure, which passed 31-4, removes the possibility of facing civil lawsuits. Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, is the sponsor.

Alaska currently ranks 49th in the nation in the number of physicians per capita, according to the bill.

Several lawmakers spoke in favor of the bill. Rep. Sharon Cissna, D-Anchorage, said she liked the bill because it could reduce the number of uninsured people clogging emergency rooms at Anchorage hospitals.

''It would be one of the fixes to a growing problem,'' she said.

If the bill passes, Alaska will join 43 other states that have legislation limiting liability for retired physicians, according to the bill.

The measure could come up again in the House under a procedural move. It then goes to the Senate where a similar bill is under consideration.

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