WASHINGTON, June 5, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) today joined Nevada ACEP to urge Gov. Brian Sandoval to veto AB 382 — a bill that will have devastating effects on Nevadans, especially in rural communities, by driving doctors out of state and forcing emergency departments to close their doors because of financial reasons. If it becomes law, AB 382 will allow insurance companies to pay whatever they want for lifesaving care, regardless of the costs of providing that care.
"This bill is designed to help only the health insurance companies and to increase profits. It leaves our patients, many desperate for care, in the dust," said Bret Frey, MD, FACEP, Legislative Liaison for the Nevada Chapter of ACEP. "This will result in a mass exodus of physicians and will severely limit the state's ability to recruit and retain specialists and emergency physicians, all needed to care for Nevada patients."
Nevada ranked last in the nation for Access to Emergency Care and close to the bottom of the list when it comes to Quality & Patient Safety Environment, according to a 2014 State-by State Report Card analyzing state and federal support for emergency care that ACEP published. Nevada already has severe workforce shortages, and financial barriers continue to threaten emergency care in the state.
AB 382 will allow insurance companies to avoid contracting with emergency physicians and other specialists. Instead, they can offer a token payment, forcing the physician to expend time and money to go to mediation in order to get paid.
"Health insurance companies have a long history of denying care for emergency patients," said Rebecca Parker, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. "They are misleading patients by selling them so-called 'affordable' health policies that cover very little, then blaming medical providers for charges. This will have a horrible effect in Nevada and could be used by insurance companies and policymakers as a blueprint nationwide."
Dr. Parker adds that transparency by insurance companies and use of independent databases, such as Fair Health are needed. Payments for emergency visits should be based on usual and customary charges, rather than arbitrary rates set by the insurance industry that don't even cover the costs of care and stick patients with unfair bills. The insurance companies are exploiting federal law (EMTALA) that mandates that hospital emergency departments see all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.
SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)