Such a fund would attract and retain physicians and nurse practitioners to work in rural communities
April 15, 2011--A bill that would extend funding for the Oregon Rural Medical Liability Program passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, and is headed to a floor vote.
Senate Bill 608
establishes a program that will create a funding pool to pay for professional liability coverage for medical professionals practicing in rural areas. It would help approximately the 800 doctors and nurse practitioners who provide care in rural Oregon. The bill is asking that approximately $5 million be spent for this biennium.
The money would come out of the state’s general fund. Previously, the State Accident Insurance Fund Corporation (SAIF) provided such revenue as a result of House Bill 3630
, which was enacted in 2003. That bill created a similar program, which comes to an end in December. Approximately $20 million was spent over the last seven years.
Advocates argue that the program is essential because it retains and attracts physicians to rural areas.
“It’s one of the few tools we have to encourage rural physicians and nurse practitioners to continue practicing in an environment where they typically work more hours and earn a lower income then they would in an urban setting, or in another state,” testified Scott Ekblad, director of the Oregon Office of Rural Health.
“The liability piece is substantial when it comes to making the decision about whether or not to stay in a rural practice,” said Dr. Kevin Johnston, a family physician in Burns.
“My salary remains below average for the state, so [having my malpractice insurance paid] makes it easier for me to stay in practice in this rural area,” said Kathy Kolb Moon, a family nurse practitioner at Reedsports’ Dunes Family Health Care
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