Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Emergency Physicians and Charity Care

From an ACEP press release:

A new study of physician charity care found U.S. physicians overall to be providing less charity care.  However, emergency physicians provide the highest percentages of charity care, and as other physicians decline to provide this care and close their practices to new Medicare patients, emergency physicians will provide even more, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).  

Dr. Rick Blum, president of ACEP, said the findings of the Centers for Health System Change study is a warning that the nation must act now to protect everyone’s access to lifesaving emergency care.

“The growing lack of resources in emergency departments affects everyone’s access to emergency care,” said Dr. Rick Blum, president of ACEP.  “As other physicians decline to provide charity care, more patients will come to emergency departments for medical care, which means less resources for everyone.  Emergency patients already are suffering, lacking timely access to emergency care and to medical specialists and waiting days for hospital beds.  We are asking the public to send messages to their representatives in Congress to support legislation to help reduce the dangerous trends that are limiting their ability to receive high-quality, lifesaving medical care.”  

More than 95 percent of emergency physicians provided care to the uninsured, compared with 31 percent of all other physicians, according to the American Medical Association (AMA) in 2003.  Reasons for this include the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals with emergency departments to provide emergency medical care to everyone who needs it, regardless of ability to pay or insurance status.


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