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Senate Managed Care Legislation Falls Short of Protecting Patients in Emergency Situations

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) today said the Senate managed care legislation continues to leave patients vulnerable for charges related to visits to the emergency department, although emergency physicians are encouraged that patient protection legislation is continuing to move forward in Congress.

Dr. John Moorhead, president of ACEP, made the following statement following tonight's passage of S. 1344, the "Patients' Bill of Rights Act of 1999":

"The American College of Emergency Physicians is encouraged the U.S. Senate has gone on record and passed legislation to protect patients who visit the emergency department. We are disappointed, however, that the language is not comprehensive and does not include effective provisions for coordinating a patient's post-stabilization care or limit a patient's costs for an emergency visit issues addressed in the Graham/Chafee amendment, which failed on Tuesday. ACEP also is disappointed that the post-stabilization language provides financial incentives that may divert people from obtaining the care they need in an emergency situation, continuing to allow health plans off the hook in coordinating the post-stabilization care of a patient, a critical part of treatment that health plans need to be closely involved with.

"However, the bill represents an incremental step toward protecting people in managed care plans, covering 48 million people. We are encouraged by discussions in the House Commerce Committee about emergency care, and the stage is now set for the Senate to work with the House to pass meaningful emergency care provisions in its patient protection legislation.

"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. The legislation should include provisions for post-stabilization care and limits a patient's cost sharing."

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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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