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Senate Fails to Pass Graham/Chafee Amendment

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), a medical specialty organization of more than 20,000 emergency physicians, today said the Senate managed care legislation falls short of fully protecting emergency patients in managed care plans, because it does not contain provisions for appropriate coordination of post-stabilization care or limit a patient's responsibility for sharing the costs of emergency care.

Dr. John Moorhead, president of ACEP, made the following statement following yesterday's defeat of the Graham/Chafee amendment, which would have addressed these concerns:

"Emergency physicians are disappointed that the Graham/Chafee amendment did not pass and that the Senate managed care legislation does not contain provisions to ensure appropriate post-stabilization care. While we support provisions of the bill to establish a national 'prudent layperson' standard, the provisions are not complete, and the legislation only covers 48 million insured consumers about one-third the number who need protection and does not limit a patient's co-payments for emergency care, which may discourage people from going to the emergency department.

"Care of a patient after his or her medical condition has been stabilized often must be done in a timely manner to ensure that a medical condition or injury does not deteriorate or develop further medical complications. Emergency physicians seek to work closely with health plans and other hospital staff to coordinate follow-up care, but often are frustrated because they are not able to reach health plans in a timely manner to discuss a patient's care. "ACEP continues to call on Congress to adopt the same national 'prudent layperson' standard for all Americans, as they did for Medicare and Medicaid patients in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and as the President did for all Federal employees. This standard is also contained in S.517, the 'Access to Emergency Services Act of 1999' and other bills pending in Congress."

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The American College of Emergency Physicians is a medical specialty society representing nearly 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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