Missouri lawmakers have voted to relax medical malpractice liability for volunteer health workers in efforts to encourage retired healthcare providers to volunteer in their communities.

The Volunteer Health Services Act (SB129) waives civil penalties against volunteer health professionals unless there is a “gross deviation from the ordinary standard of care, or willful misconduct.”

It will also allow health professionals licensed in other states to practice in Missouri if they are providing free health care and was sponsored by Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, a former pharmacist.

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“We just want them to work within the scope of their practice. If they do that and follow the standard of care, which we have in the bill, then they won’t have to fear being sued for some frivolous stuff,” Sater said in an interview with MissouriWatchdog.org.

Gov. Jay Nixon, who stated that the state already had a system of free clinics and that any gaps in coverage should be addressed within the system, originally vetoed the bill.

SB129 will take effect in early October, and makes Missouri at least the eighth state to ease medical malpractice liability fears for volunteer health practitioners.