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The Free or Charitable Medical Clinic continues to serve as an important safety net for millions of under- and uninsured individuals throughout the country; it is estimated that 29-31 million Americans will remain uninsured following full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Free Medical Clinics are often staffed by volunteer physicians, nurses, and other health care providers who provide primary health care services to indigent populations—including the homeless, undocumented persons, and Medicaid recipients—who have limited or no access to health care providers or prescription care.
AHLA’s Legal and Operational Guide for Free Medical Clinics was created to help community and health care leaders in their efforts to build a Free or Charitable Medical Clinic. While local and state laws governing the establishment and operation of clinics vary, this Guide will give clinic organizers a broad understanding of the numerous and most commonly encountered legal and operational issues that must be taken into consideration, such as the scope of services to be provided, funding sources, 501(c)(3) tax-exemption, recruitment and licensure of medical volunteers, insurance coverage and liability, prescription drug management, patient privacy, and quality of care and other patient care issues.
A special note: This resource was made possible by the generosity of the American Medical Association Foundation (AMAF), the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC), AHLA’s volunteer-authors who contributed their time and expertise, and AHLA’s Public Interest Donors. We hope that this valuable resource will help community leaders and health care providers turn the idea of building and operating a Free Medical Clinic into reality.