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Every shrill wail of an ambulance siren signals the inefficiency of the federal mega-program, namely, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)—ObamaCare. The arrogance and officialdom embodied in the Act are making orphans of emergency medical services (EMS). With the enormous increase in patient coverage proposed in the supposedly all-encompassing act, not enough money is provided for the expected huge increased need for EMS, a Jan. 11 analysis by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) explains.
In addition, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), representing emergency room doctors, is letting the government know that it opposes the emergency services reimbursement provisions. The reimbursements under the new law will not allow hospital emergency departments to care for the “tens of millions of patients who pay little or nothing for emergency care services.” Meanwhile—even before provisions of ObamaCare give millions more people emergency room services, emergency departments can “no longer afford to remain operational,” declared the report from AAEM.
It reminded the politicians and the public that emergency departments are required by an unfunded federal mandate to “treat anyone who arrives at their door, regardless of their ability to pay.” Payments from government sources “are already insufficient to cover costs or expenses.” It said.
Unless the ACA law is declared unconstitutional or enough pieces of it are peeled away by conservatives in Congress, ultimately the pool of privately and publicly insured Americans “may be as large as 30 to 49 million people” by 2016, according to The Incidental Economist. So, the need for emergency medical services (EMS) will increase dramatically. This is particularly true because insured persons, on average, consume nearly twice as much health care as the uninsured, the NCPA noted. Also the number and frequency of emergency department visits is much higher for Medicaid and Medicare recipients than for uninsured and those with private insurance. The NCPA, a non-profit research organization, estimates that ObamaCare will generate 848,000 to 901,000 added emergency room visits annually. There won’t be enough ambulances or responders to rush patients to hospitals. Emergencies will proliferate.
“Every year,” The New York Times reported February 18, “the nation’s emergency rooms treat 117 million patients,” many delivered by ambulance. Ambulance trips to hospitals grew by 13 percent from 1997 to 2006, according to figures available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2006, the 18.4 million ambulance transports to hospitals accounted for 15.4 percent of emergency department visits, according to the NCPA. But that’s only a smidgen of what lies ahead if ObamaCare stays on the law books with its grandiose promises of health services for the nation.
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