The Senate Finance Committee, which is developing health care reform legislation under the leadership of chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), addressed the issue of emergency care several times during the mark-up of the Chairman's health care reform proposal.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the lead sponsor of ACEP’s Access to Emergency Medical Services Act, offered an amendment to the legislation on September 30 that would improve ED efficiency and patient care by creating a work group at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish hospital standards and quality measures for boarding and ambulance diversion.
On September 29, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a co-sponsor of ACEP's Access to Emergency Medical Services Act, offered an amendment to the legislation that would require each health care plan and health care issuer offering coverage in the exchange to provide coverage for emergency services without regard to prior authorization or the emergency physician's contractual relationship with the health plan. Enrollees could not be charged a co-payment or cost-sharing higher than the in-network rates.
On the first day of committee action, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), offered an amendment to the legislation that she said would ensure access to our nation's emergency departments and encourage more on-call specialists to provide coverage. The amendment would provide a 5% Medicare reimbursement bonus for services provided by an emergency physician, or on-call specialist for services performed in an emergency department. The bonus would be provided from 2010 to 2015.