Official Statement on the Health Care Reform Bill from ACEP

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“The need to shore up our nation’s emergency departments is as urgent as ever.  While many provisions in the legislation, such as inclusion of emergency services as an essential component of any benefit package, will benefit emergency patients, it is clear that emergency visits will increase, as we have seen in Massachusetts, which already has universal coverage.

“We applaud the requirement for exchange health plans to provide emergency services without regard to prior authorization or emergency physician contractual relationships. The nation’s emergency physicians have advocated for years for passage of a national ‘prudent layperson standard’ to require health plans to base coverage on a patient’s symptoms, not the final diagnosis.  This has finally been accomplished with this legislation and applied to all health plans as part of the Patients’ Bill of Rights.

“As we have seen in Massachusetts, though, health insurance coverage does not equal access to medical care, and emergency visits are increasing in that state.  This means critical problems facing emergency patients are not going away.


“The bill includes medical liability dispute resolution alternatives, but the scope is extremely limited, which limits its potential effectiveness.  America’s medical liability system is broken and without true medical liability reform, patients’ access to lifesaving care will continue to suffer.

“A permanent solution also must be found to fix the fundamentally flawed Medicare physician reimbursement formula.  The continued reliance on this defective system will force more and more physicians to limit the number of Medicare patients they see or cause them to stop participating in the Medicare program altogether.

“ACEP has worked with – and will continue to work with – members of Congress to find solutions to improve the safety and efficiency of emergency care for all Americans.  ERs are a critical, life-or-death part of our health care system and ERs need help now.  This crisis in emergency care is everyone’s problem, because every person is only one step away from a medical emergency.”  


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