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What is the Federal Tort Claims Act?

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Overview

Welcome to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) Program site. When visiting our site, you will find information on what the FTCA Program is, program eligibility requirements, guidance on applying for FTCA coverage and technical assistance resources to help your organization maintain program compliance and patient safety.

Health Centers: The Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Acts of 1992 and 1995 (FSHCAA) provides that certain persons, referred to as covered individuals (i.e., governing board members, officers, employees, and certain individual contractors) of FTCA covered entities (e.g., health centers that receive section 330 funds and have been approved for coverage or “deemed” as employees of the Public Health Service (PHS) by the Secretary) be treated as PHS employees for purposes of medical malpractice liability coverage. Covered activities are acts or omissions in the performance of medical, surgical, dental, or related functions resulting in personal injury, including death, and occurring within the scope of employment (including within the approved scope of project). This means that a covered entity or individual is immune and will not be financially liable for any claims arising from covered activities. Congress’ intent was to increase the availability of funds to health centers to provide primary health care services by reducing or eliminating health centers’ malpractice insurance premiums.

Health Center Volunteer Health Professionals: Through enactment of Section 9025 of the 21st Century Cures Act (Pub. L. 114-255), Congress extended eligibility for liability protections for the performance of medical, surgical, dental, or related functions to Volunteer Health Professionals (VHPs) at health centers that have also been deemed as employees of the PHS when the health center sponsors the VHP for deeming and the activity meets the criteria for coverage. Through this process, VHPs of deemed health centers may be deemed as PHS employees, with associated FTCA coverage.

Sunset of the FTCA Volunteer Health Professional Program: Statutory authority for the Health Center Volunteer Health Professionals (VHP) Program is currently due to sunset on October 1, 2022, pursuant to Section 224(q)(6) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. § 233(q)(6)), which states: “Beginning on October 1, 2022, this subsection shall cease to have any force or effect.”  Previously issued VHP Notices of Deeming Action (NDA) are being amended to expressly reflect this statutory sunset date.  Future VHP NDAs for calendar year 2022 also will reflect the statutory sunset date of September 30, 2022.  Absent legislative action to continue the program beyond the statutory sunset date, HRSA will not accept VHP deeming applications submitted after May 9, 2022.

Free Clinic Volunteer Health Professionals and Covered Individuals: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) extended the eligibility for FTCA liability protections for the performance of medical, surgical, dental, or related functions to volunteer health professionals at qualifying free clinics when the free clinic sponsors the VHP for deeming and the activity meets the criteria for coverage. Funds to support the program were appropriated in 2004, and the first free clinic volunteer health professionals were "deemed" in 2005. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act expanded eligibility for FSHCAA liability protections to employees, officers, board members and contractors of qualifying free clinics.

Which program should my organization apply for?

To determine which FTCA Program that would best suit your health center or free clinic organization, please click on the following links for more information:

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