Frist: Senate Unlikely To Pass Emergency Care Bill
During a speech to the American College of Emergency Physicians, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday said the Senate is unlikely to pass legislation (HR 3875) designed to ease overcrowding in U.S. emergency departments. Frist said the bill will not pass because senators need to learn more about the issue of ED overcrowding before legislation can be addressed (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 5/24).
Sponsored by Reps. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas), the bill would increase Medicare reimbursements for ED services by 10%, a provision that would cost about $100 million. In addition, the legislation would establish new federal standards on the amount of time hospitals take to treat ED patients to discourage the practice of "boarding" patients.
Hospitals that met the standards would receive higher Medicare reimbursements. The legislation also would provide new medical liability protection to specialists who treat uninsured patients (American Health Line, 9/29/05).
After the speech, attendees asked Frist to assure them that the Senate would vote to postpone a scheduled 2007 Medicare cut in physician payments. Frist replied that he will "continue to work very hard" to prevent the cuts, adding that he is "very committed" to both a "provider-friendly" system and "appropriate compensation" (CQ HealthBeat, 5/24).