Atlanta Gov. Sonny Perdue said Wednesday he believes more doctors will volunteer their services to the poor under a bill he signed this week that gives them immunity from lawsuits when they aid the needy.
Perdue used a news conference to call attention to the new law and to an initiative that can help reduce drug costs for the needy.
"Occasionally, we do something that really matters in the lives of people, and this is one of those times," he said.
The new Volunteer Medicine Act he signed Tuesday affords state liability protection to doctors and other professionals who provide free healthcare to the poor.
Perdue said many medical professionals have told him they would join volunteer healthcare programs but for the potential risk of a lawsuit.
"I believe there are many doctors and health professionals ready to step forward and volunteer their time and skill to help low-income Georgians with these protections in place," he said.
The immunity will apply to professionals who provide medical or dental services to individuals whose family income does not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level and who lack insurance.
Perdue also praised a national program underwritten by 10 major drug companies that helps those with low incomes save an estimated 25% to 40% on more than 275 brand-name drugs.