DeMint Statement about ER "Alternative" to Obamacare is Inaccurate

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Emergency departments provide excellent patient care, but having access to emergency care is no substitute for having comprehensive insurance coverage that provides access to primary care," said Dr. Andy Sama, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).  Dr. Sama took issue with a statement made earlier this week by former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint that uninsured patients will "get better health care just going to the emergency room" [instead of through Obamacare]:

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"Statements like the one made by Jim DeMint are unnecessarily politically charged and reflect an absence of policy.  They also illustrate the challenges of health care reform.  Hundreds of emergency departments have closed in the United States because billions of dollars in care for uninsured and underinsured patients have gone uncompensated.  At the same time, emergency visit rates have increased at twice the rate of the U.S. population, and they will continue to increase, despite health care reform — as they have in Massachusetts, which implemented universal health insurance coverage in 2006.

"Policymakers need to acknowledge that America's emergency departments are one of the most important essential health care resources we have and stop using them as political footballs.  ERs are critical to every community and must have adequate resources and funding.  Policymakers on all sides also need to realize the focus on preventing so-called 'non-urgent' ER visits distracts everyone from the facts that the real cost savings are in reducing hospital admissions and improved care coordination."

Dr. Sama said a recent report from RAND found that emergency physicians coordinate transitions of care every day in hospitals across the country, filling gaping holes in the nation's health care system. The doctors who staff hospital emergency departments represent 4 percent of America's doctors and are providing care for:

  • 11 percent of all the outpatient visits in the United States,
  • 28 percent of all acute care visits,
  • half of the acute care visits by Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries and
  • two-thirds of all acute care visits by the uninsured.

RAND also found that emergency physicians are key decision-makers in more than half of hospital admissions.  The number of hospital admissions from the emergency department has increased by 17 percent over years.

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing 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 and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies. 

SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)



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