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Solutions to the ER Crisis

Access to Emergency Medical Services Act

Captiol Hill

The nation’s health care “safety net” has been underfunded and overburdened for years. The recession and surge of the recently uninsured from mounting job losses is pushing this already crumbling foundation of health care to the brink of collapse.

As a result, emergency rooms too full to accept another patient are forced to go “on diversion” and ambulances are turned away – on average – every 60 seconds in this country. Gurneys of patients line the hallways of ERs – sometimes for days – waiting for a bed in the hospital. Hospital waiting rooms continue to fill up with patients and on-call specialists won’t come to the ER. And that’s for the ERs that have been able to remain open. Across the country emergency rooms have been forced to close, leaving many communities lacking essential emergency medical care.

These problems are not the result of shortcomings within emergency medicine. They are actually the result of issues stemming from the overall health care environment. That is why it’s critical emergency medicine is included in overall health care reform. To create integrated solutions, a legislative solution is being proposed: the Access to Emergency Medical Services Act, which seeks to convene a commission of leading experts to examine factors such as crowding, boarding, ambulance diversion and the on-call specialist shortage from all aspects to determine how to realign resources and services to address these issues.

Other initiatives include addressing Medicare payments, and the development of hospital boarding and diversion standards to ensure emergency rooms remain open, appropriately staffed and that patients are given the quality emergency medical care they need, when they need it.

Congress must act today so that emergency medicine is available tomorrow. And they need to know their constituents want them to take action; that you want them to co-sponsor the the Access to Emergency Medical Services Act. Let your voice be heard on Capitol Hill by contacting Congress now.

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