ACEP strongly supports H.R. 836, the "Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act of 2015," introduced by Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) on February 10. ACEP is urging House members to co-sponsor this important legislation.
H.R. 836 will encourage physicians and on-call specialists to continue their lifesaving work and ensure emergency medical care will be available for your constituents when and where it is needed. Specifically, the legislation addresses the growing crisis in access to emergency care by providing emergency and on-call physicians who provide EMTALA-related services with temporary protections under the Federal Tort Claims Act. EMTALA, the "Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act," is a federal law enacted in 1986 that requires hospital emergency departments and its physicians to provide a medical screening exam for all patients, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. If an emergency medical condition is discovered, then medical treatment must be provided on-site or the patient is transferred to a facility that could provide the necessary treatment.
The nature of emergency medicine is providing care to patients who have serious injuries or illnesses, with whom we have little or no relationship and, at best, a limited ability to access their medical history. For these reasons, emergency and other on-call physicians have much higher liability exposure and subsequent premiums. Providing liability protection to physicians for the federally-mandated EMTALA services rendered will help ensure emergency and on-call physicians remain available to treat patients in their communities. Otherwise, we will continue to see sharp declines in on-call specialist availability and the relocation of emergency physicians to areas of the country where the liability environment is more favorable.
During the 112th Congress, the House version of this bill (H.R. 157) was approved by voice vote as an amendment to H.R. 5 in March 2012. The Senate did not take action on H.R. 5 before the end of the session.
Please contact ACEP's Congressional Affairs Director Brad Gruehn at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 370-9297 for more information.
Photo Caption: ACEP leaders, including Immediate Past President Alex M. Rosenau, DO, CPE, FACEP, with Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) on Tuesday at a Capitol Hill news conference announcing the introduction of H.R. 836. Dr. Roseau lives and practices in Rep. Dent’s congressional district.