S. 1323 & H. 2268 - An Act Relative to Volunteer Dentistry

Sponsors: Senator Marc Pacheco and Representative David Torrisi

  • This bill would allow dentists, in practical terms those that are retired and not deriving any income from their profession, to qualify for a volunteer dental license allowing them to volunteer at free health care clinics that serve low-income individuals and those with limited access to dental care.
  • The volunteer dental license will have the same requirements as a regular dental license, except there would be no fee.
  • Enactment of this measure will likely enhance access to dental care for those less fortunate by enabling a corps of dentists to offer their services and expertise at free health care clinics.
  • The Free Clinics Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) Medical Malpractice Program appears to address the liability issue by extending malpractice coverage to volunteer health care professionals that meet certain requirements. The FTCA sets forth requirements for determining a "free clinic" and a "free clinic health employee." The federal law deems a health care professional who meets certain standards as a "federal employee," therefore, requiring claimants to file suit against the United States Government.
  • The Federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 also appears to be a viable solution to the liability issue for health care programs and professionals that do not necessarily meet the standards set forth in FTCA. 
  • This law provides a qualified immunity for non-profit volunteers against negligence.  It does not provide immunity to the non-profit organization.

Read S. 1323

Read H. 2268