Find more information about Community Catalyst projects in Iowa.
OVERVIEW: Iowa law requires that county public hospitals provide free care to indigent patients. In addition, there is a voluntary health care program that provides certain liability protection to participating providers and a prescription drug program through which uninsured patients may receive free medications.
Treatment in County Hospitals
Iowa Code § 347.16
Volunteer Health Care Provider Program
Iowa Code § 135.24.
The county hospital board of trustees operates each county hospital program. Iowa Code § 347.16.
DEFINITIONS AND DISTINCTIONS: N/A
FREE CARE AS A COMMUNITY BENEFIT: N/A
Iowa law mandates that county public hospitals must provide “free care and treatment”—a term that is never defined—to “any sick and injured person who fulfills [residency requirements] in the county maintaining the hospital, and who is indigent.” Iowa Code § 347.16(2). The board of hospital trustees of a county hospital is responsible for setting eligibility standards. Id. The trustees may delegate this responsibility to the General Assistance Director of the Office of the Department of Human Services in the county. Iowa Code § 347.16(2).
An indigent person who is not a resident of the county may still be eligible for free care; when such care is provided, the county public hospital providing the care must notify by regular mail the auditor of the county of residence of the person who was provided with care under this provision. Iowa Code § 347.16(3). In such situations, the patient’s county of residence must pay the “fair and reasonable cost of the care and treatment” provided by the county public hospital. Iowa Code § 347.16(3).
FINANCING SOURCE: N/A
SERVICES COVERED: N/A
NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS: N/A
APPLICATION PROCESS: N/A
GRIEVANCE/APPEAL PROCESS: N/A
REPORTING REQUIREMENTS: N/A
PENALTIES FOR NONCOMPLIANCE: N/A
Volunteer Health Care Provider Program. Under the Volunteer Health Care Provider Program, providers are encouraged to offer free medical and dental services on a voluntary basis. A health care provider participating in this program is treated as a state employee and afforded liability protection as an employee of the state, so long as the provider has registered with the Department of Public Health and provided services through an eligible hospital, clinic, or other eligible organization including free clinics across the state. Iowa Code § 135.24. Details about this program can be found here. Services to be provided may include, but are not limited to, OB/GYN services, psychiatric services, and dental services. Iowa Code § 135.24(2)(d).
Prescription drug program. The Iowa Collaborative Safety Net Provider Network is involved in an initiative to provide free medications through the Drug Donation Program, which is administered by the Iowa Prescription Drug Corporation. Any uninsured or underinsured patient without prescription coverage is eligible for free medication through this program. More information about this program can be found at: http://www.iowapdc.org/.
Limitations on debt collection. The debt collection statute specifically excludes county hospital trustees from being able to collect on accounts of indigent patients or those eligible for free care under the discussed provisions. Iowa Code § 347.17.