Sunday, August 14, 2005

ED Co-Pay for Poor Patients

From the Clarion-Ledger

"Co-pay of $30 for poor looms"

University of Mississippi Medical Center officials are considering charging poor patients a $30 co-pay before receiving care, a move UMC said is necessary because of declining financial support from the state.

"It's a very difficult decision on many levels. It's personally difficult for me," said UMC Vice Chancellor Dr. Dan Jones, who earlier this year told lawmakers about the hospital's funding concerns. "That's simply the financial reality we face."

Whether the proposal would comply with federal law is under discussion, Jones said. A 1986 federal law requires hospitals receiving Medicaid and Medicare funding to treat patients in the emergency room "regardless of (their) ability to pay."

"A co-pay in our system is more complicated," Jones said. "We're still working through the policy decisions."

The plan could be in place this fall, though UMC could not provide an estimate of how much money the plan would generate — or save.

Jones said patients with medical emergencies still would receive treatment. The $30 would help the hospital offset rising health-care costs and encourage those with non-emergencies to seek care from county health clinics and not the emergency room, he said.

"Our emergency room will remain open to anyone who has an emergency," Jones said. "No one is trying to evade responsibility to provide care."


Post a Comment

<< Home