Lawmakers who want to offer a 10% Medicare reimbursement increase for emergency department care are looking to health information technology adoption to offset that pay bump.
Last week, a bipartisan group of senators and congressmen reintroduced the Access to Emergency Medical Services Act, which calls for the creation of a national bipartisan commission to examine factors that affect the delivery of care in emergency departments, and asks the CMS to develop standards, guidelines and measures to address boardingkeeping patients in ER exam rooms or in the hallways when inpatient rooms arent availableand ambulance diversion.
The legislation would also provide a 10% reimbursement increase to emergency department staff, including on-call specialists who often dont get paid for emergency care.
For too long, emergency care has been the unfunded community service that everyone takes for granted will always be there in the middle of the night, or during a hurricane, or on Christmas Day when you are really sick and need help, said Nick Jouriles, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, at a news conference last week.
An ACEP poll of 1,734 emergency physicians found that more people are seeking emergency care because of lost jobs and health insurance. Nearly 88% reported treating patients who had been turned away for care elsewhere, such as a doctors office or clinic, and more than 72% said they personally had seen a patient with serious medical consequences because of delayed medical care.
The Access to Emergency Medical Services Act has yet to be evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office. Yet, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), one of the bills sponsors, believes the billions of dollars in savings anticipated under some of the health IT provisions in the stimulus law would offset the cost of boosting Medicare payments to emergency-care staff.