Senator pushing for bill to let retired doctors practice

by: Bobby Shuttleworth

The state’s free clinics may be getting help from state Senator Arthur Orr.

He’s pushing a bill that would let retired doctors practice medicine, while the state pays for their malpractice insurance.

This measure will benefit both doctor’s and patients.

So many of these patient are the ones who slip through the cracks of the system. They don’t qualify for medicare or medicaid and they have no insurance.

Decatur’s free clinic offers medical care and prescriptions for needy patients.

While some current doctors donate their time, the ideal situation is allowing retired doctors to do the same.

“I loved to practice at the free clinic and this was on Tuesdays and Thursday nights and we had a roster of doctors who volunteered. And I always enjoyed those visits and the care that we gave to the patients,” says Dr. George Hansberry.

But thing changed when he retired.

“I felt very strongly that I could not continue to be a physician for the free clinic because when you retire your malpractice insurance retires. You are covered 5 years back, but you’re not covered one bit forward,” says Dr. Hansberry.

Enter state Senator Arthur Orr. He has a plan to make it possible for retired doctors to donate their skills.

“The risk management pool of the state has agreed to take them on and the Department of Public Health will pay the premiums. The premiums are only $4 to $500 per year,” says Orr.

If passed, this will not only help the decatur free clinics, but those across the state.

“So we estimate 30 to 50 doctors around the state will make use of this provision and this measure which means the cost will be minimal to the taxpayer.”

Orr says he will get help from democrat Zeb Little in the senate, so he doesn’t expect any partisan politics.

We also talked with a couple of pharmacists who wish the same measure could be extended to them.

Dentists are also interested. Orr says they will look into that in the future.
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