WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) today called on Congress to guarantee health insurance coverage for emergency patients in the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) legislation, saying it cannot support any legislation that does not include emergency medical care as a covered benefit.
"We are monitoring deliberations in Congress and telling legislators not to erode the protections that emergency patients currently have to access emergency care," said Rebecca Parker, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. "In a recent poll, Americans overwhelmingly—95 percent—wanted health insurance companies to cover emergency medical care, and we agree with them. The Affordable Care Act included emergency services as an essential health benefit and any replacement legislation must do the same. Patients can't choose where and when they will need emergency care and they shouldn't be punished financially for having emergencies." Dr. Parker said insurance companies have always chosen to deny coverage when given the option. That's why federal legislation must ensure that patients having emergencies can seek emergency care knowing their insurer will cover the bill.
"If the House chooses to eliminate the mandatory coverage of emergency medical care by health insurance plans—which currently exists under the Affordable Care Act—ACEP would have to oppose the bill," said Dr. Parker. "We would work very hard to ensure those protections are reinstated by the Senate. Emergency medicine is essential to America, providing lifesaving and critical care to millions of patients each year."
The current version of the legislation would allow states to apply for waivers to opt out of providing insurance coverage for essential benefits, including emergency care.