Proposed Legislation Addresses Funding, Operations for Emergency Departments
Sens. Richard Alarcon (D-Van Nuys) and Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) with four other lawmakers on Wednesday discussed legislation to increase federal funding for emergency department physicians, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The bills are intended to stabilize funding for EDs, although legislators said that the bills are temporary measures to prevent the system from "bleeding out" until they find a permanent fiscal solution to ED funding problems.
According to the Daily News, the legislation would:
- Standardize some payment and allocations methods;
- Address regional planning and coordination efforts;
- Exclude patients from billing disputes between physicians and health plans; and
- Require hospitals that close their EDs to notify the public in advance.
Alarcon said, "Communities shouldn't be caught off guard with a hospital or emergency [department] closure." He added, "State and local agencies and community groups need ample time to find out if anything can be done to keep emergency [department] and hospital doors open, to find alternative buyers and intervene on behalf of those who will suffer."
Irv Edwards, president-elect of the California chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians said, "The [ED] health care system is crumbling." He said that recent ED closures in the San Fernando Valley have contributed to increased patient volumes at nearby hospitals, leading to "bad medicine."
Republican lawmakers, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), and representatives of the hospital and health insurance industries declined to comment on the bills, the Daily News reports (Geissinger, Los Angeles Daily News, 5/12).