News Headlines Article

How Safety-Net ERs Can Save Health-Care Reform
The Huffington Post

Safety-net emergency departments are frequently blamed for being the source of rising health-care costs. After all, they care for the millions of underserved and uninsured Americans forced by a variety of circumstances to visit ERs for their primary care and low-acuity concerns.

With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms initiated in January, demand for emergency services will rise significantly. Medicaid already covers over 50 million individuals, most of whom are vulnerable low-income children and their mothers, or medically complex elders. Now that Medicaid has been expanded to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level in many states, new research predicts that previously uninsured patients will use emergency services even more frequently. Furthermore, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will reduce disproportionate-share-hospital funding (a major revenue source for safety-net providers) from now until 2020 to accompany the ACA expansion. States that did not expand Medicaid coverage will likely struggle to provide services to their underserved patients.