As Cities feeling burden of rising health costs: survey notes, increasing healthcare system costsincluding caring for the underinsured and uninsuredare forcing cities to make cutbacks in emergency and other basic community services.
These cuts do not bode well for anyone who suddenly becomes injured or ill and needs police, fire or paramedic assistance along with rapid transport to the emergency department by ambulance. Instead, they may spell double trouble for patients at both ends of the emergency-care pipeline, particularly persons in need of life-saving emergency care at the scenea cardiac arrest patient, for instance.
That is because the cuts in emergency care, in particular, are coming from all sidesespecially when one considers that for emergency departments, which have a federal mandate to care for anyone regardless of ability to pay, dwindling resources are already a perpetual problem, since half of emergency care routinely goes uncompensated. The result: hundreds of ERs have closed nationwide over the last decade, putting thousands of lives at risk.
To safeguard us all, the presidential candidates need to focus on resuscitating our nations struggling emergency-care system as part of comprehensive healthcare reform. Americas emergency departments are there, 24/7, ready to provide care for everyone. Its time now to stand by the providers of emergency careby shoring up Americas ERs as an integral part of the plan.
Linda L. Lawrence, M.D, FACEPPresident American College of Emergency PhysiciansWashington
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