The audience got a dose of “unfiltered” Sean McGuire on this week’s episode of America’s Healthcare Challenge featuring information on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). A law passed in 1986, which in many ways the catalyst of the spiraling healthcare costs in America. This legislation allows any individual the opportunity to seek care in a hospital emergency rooms to a stabilized condition regardless of their citizenship status or ability to pay.
The two key problems are. First, it costs much more to treat someone at the Emergency Room as opposed to an outpatient clinic or urgent care. Second, the risk of EMTALA violations exacerbate the problem as hospitals face fines up to $50,000, and an audit from government bureaucrats who review the last six years of transfers which is a huge headache from an administrative standpoint. Since there is such a risk of massive fines, hospitals are hesitant to send patients to other more efficient and less expensive entry systems to the healthcare delivery system, and as you can see the impact it has on healthcare costs over time.
Healthcare costs begin to explode a few years after the EMTALA law went into effect. The issue of uncompensated care was the main driver behind passage of the health reform law because the 46 million Americans were without health insurance when the Obamacare was passed. The main reason for the large number of uninsured is because insurance premiums began to skyrocket through a hidden tax called cost-shifting Basically those with insurance began seeing the cost of those who cannot pay passed along to them in the form of higher premiums.
In many ways, EMTALA is a law of unintended consequences, and the Affordable Care Act has capability to have similar outcomes due to all of the fines, compliance requirements and taxes that are looming in upcoming years as the rule and regulatory issues play out. The bigger question what will we do to address the rising cost of healthcare which is the top driver to the national debt. One thing many argue is the ACA does not do enough to control rising healthcare costs. As you can see below, this is a huge issue evaporating take home pay for American workers.
Will either side do anything to help address the issue of rising healthcare costs? How will the Presidential election be impacted by this legislation, and what does it mean for seniors on Medicare? All of these questions and much more on the latest episode of America’s Healthcare Challenge on Omaha news radio 1110 KFAB.