Become a Virtual Activist for Emergency Medicine

Health care reform has taken center stage and the Obama Administration has promised to move quickly, leaving no time to waste in making sure emergency medicine is part of what promises to be the largest overhaul our nation’s health care system has ever seen. ACEP is on Capitol Hill fighting for you and your patients, but the voice of each emergency physician is vital as we seek to gain ground.

Contact Congress NowACEP’s quick and easy online form allows you to send a letter to your federal legislators demanding that emergency medicine is a part of overall health care reform. This online advocacy tool also allows you to personalize your letter, quickly identifies your district leaders and fills in the e-mail address. All you have to do is hit send.

And if your ED’s overcrowded waiting room isn’t evidence enough that something must be done, then consider the latest report released by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) that finds emergency patients who need to be seen in 1 to 14 minutes are being seen in twice that timeframe (37 minutes).

Even more alarming is that the nation’s emergency departments already treat 120 million people annually and that number is expected to rise each passing year as Baby Boomers age. People age 65 and older represent the fastest growing segment of the population and the group whose visits to the emergency department are increasing the fastest. They are also the patients who require the most acute care and are admitted to the hospital from the emergency department most often. This could lead to catastrophic crowding in just a few years.

News reports and the views of some policymakers that enactment of universal health care coverage will ease the stress on our nation’s emergency departments are not borne out by the data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 83 percent of emergency patients have some type of insurance and a 2008 study reported that the percentage of uninsured patients in the emergency department has dropped while the percentage of insured emergency patients has risen. Yet wait times continue to grow.

Health care reform will require systemic changes, and emergency medical care is a critical part of that system. Have a voice in that change – in the future of emergency medicine – by contacting Congress today. Your patients are depending on you.

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