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Wisconsin Primary Care Programs
Free Clinics

Free clinics are volunteer-based organizations that provide a range of outpatient medical, dental, pharmacy and mental health care to low-income, un/underinsured individuals.  Free clinics:
  • Are a non-profit (501(c)(3) organization or are affiliated with one
  • Use volunteer health professionals and may use some paid administrative staff
  • Have no specific federal or state definition or regulation
Funding Support: Donations, small grants; some clinics have small patient co-pays.

Wisconsin Volunteer Health Care Provider Program A state program that can provide liability coverage for licensed health professionals who volunteer their services to provide outpatient care at free clinics. In April 2014, Wisconsin Acts 241 and 344 became effective, amending statute 146.89 which authorizes the program. These acts authorized a few key changes:

  • Program administration will move from the Department of Administration to the Department of Health Services
  • The current paper application process for registering volunteer providers will be replaced with an online registration and management system
  • Clinic and non-profit sites will be responsible for credentialing providers

At this time, while the program is in transition between the two agencies, the current paper application process through the Department of Administration remains in place. Further details regarding complete program transition, when the new online system will be up and running, and how to comply with the new statutory requirements, will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, program questions should be directed to the following:

Current application materials may be found here:

Resources for communities interested in developing a free clinic:

  • National Association of Free Clinics (exit DHS) - A membership organization that has resource publications on clinic start-up and job descriptions, helps free clinics order discounted and donated products, and maintains a list of many free clinics.
  • Free Clinics of the Great Lakes (exit DHS) - A regional membership organization that shares information and holds educational conferences.
  • Federal Tort Claims Act Coverage of Free Clinic Volunteer Health Care Professionals (exit DHS) Similar to Wisconsin's program. Clinics must submit an annual application to HRSA Bureau of Primary Health Care.
  • HRSA Rural Health Outreach Grant Program (exit DHS) Federal program that offers competitive grants to support the development of new and innovative health care delivery systems in rural communities that lack essential health services. Applicant must be located in a rural area, must be public or private non-profit, and must include collaboration with at least two other community partners.

Last Revised: October 02, 2014