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ACEP.org Public News releases ACEP Applauds Passage of...

ACEP Applauds Passage of Emergency Care Patient Protection Legislation in the House

Washington, DC The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) today applauded passage of the Norwood/Dingell bill (H.R. 2723) in the U.S. House of Representatives which would establish a national standard of emergency care and protect patients from claims denials and requirements for prior authorization by managed care plans.

Urging House and Senate conferees to meet soon so that legislation can be passed in Congress this year,  Dr. John Moorhead, president of ACEP, urged House and Senate leaders to reach a compromise that in no way diminishes application of the prudent layperson standard:

"The legislation passed today by the House will ensure that all patients in managed care plans can access emergency care whenever and wherever they need it without fear of being stuck with the bill.  As emergency physicians, we strongly support provisions to protect patients from 'after-the-fact' claims denials and prior authorization requirements that create barriers to care and can place a patient's health at serious risk.

"The House bill will establish a national prudent layperson standard, which will require health plans to base emergency care coverage on a patient's symptoms and not a final diagnosis.  This has been a consensus issue. The standard was included in all the major health care bills debated in the House this year, including those sponsored by Reps. Tom (R-OK) Coburn and John Shaddegg (R-AZ) H.R. 2824 and John Boehner (R-OH) H.R. 2926.  Overall, the language in all three bills also conforms to the language contained in the Medicare and Medicaid portions of the Budget Reconciliation Bill signed into law in 1997 and applied to federal employees through an executive order signed by President Bill Clinton last year.

"H.R. 2723 also extends the prudent layperson standard, as set forth in H.R. 904, to the approximately 161 million Americans with health insurance, unlike the legislation passed by the Senate (S.1344) last month, which only covered 48 million patients enrolled in self-insured health plans.  It is imperative that hard-working Americans who pay for their health insurance be afforded the same emergency care protections as individuals enrolled in federal government, Medicare, and Medicaid health plans.  The emergency physicians of this country and our patients continue to call on Republicans and Democrats alike to take the steps necessary to pass meaningful patient protection legislation that includes the prudent layperson standard this year."


Dr. Moorhead thanked Reps. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Marge Roukema (R-NJ) and the 82 co-sponsors of the Access to Emergency Medical Services Act of 1999 (H.R. 904), the bill which first introduced the prudent layperson standard in the House, for spearheading the drive from the beginning.  "Without their efforts," he added, "this important patient protection legislation might not have passed."  Dr. Moorhead also thanked Sens. Bob Graham (D-FL) and John Chafee (R-RI) in the Senate for their efforts.

The American College of Emergency Physicians is a medical specialty society representing more than 20,000 physicians who specialize in emergency medicine.  ACEP is dedicated to improving emergency care through continuing education, research, and public education.  Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state as well as Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Government Services.

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