Three White House-backed Medicaid regulations, if imposed, would severely cripple how hospitals respond to a mass-casualty event and could ultimately harm patients who were already admitted, according to a staff report released by House Democrats and supported by emergency department personnel who were on Capitol Hill for a hearing on the topic.
Out of 34 hospitals surveyed in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Washington, 23 Level I trauma centers said that the proposed cuts to federal spending on graduate medical education, public providers and outpatient services would siphon off up to $654 million in funding per year, according to the report put together by the majority staff of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Overall, the report found that the nations emergency departments are ill-prepared to handle a mass influx of patients. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committees chairman, lashed out at health and security leaders for supporting the rules without first studying their impact on emergency care. This is incomprehensible, Waxman said. It appears that (HHS Secretary Mike) Leavitt signed regulations that will take hundreds of millions of dollars away from hospital emergency rooms without once considering the impact on national preparedness.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), however, said the report was part of a broader political move meant to effectively kill a number of Medicaid regulations that have been finalized and proposed over the past year. Issa called the report partisan and amateur. -- by Matthew DoBias