More Patients a Result of Medicaid Expansion?

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- Emergency rooms across the country may be more crowded after the Affordable Care Act.

The American College of Emergency Physicians, or ACEP, says nationwide, hospitals are seeing more ER visits since the law went into effect January 1 and that states which have expanded Medicaid are more likely to have more ER patients.

"They're coming for emergencies, and they're people who always needed insurance and always needed care," said Dr. Alex Rosenau, the president of ACEP.

Virginia is one of 24 states that has not expanded Medicaid. In the Valley, Augusta Health reports is ER numbers are "stable." Meanwhile, at Sentara RMH, numbers are up slightly from last year, yet still below 2012; however, they attribute that to seeing more elderly, seriously ill patients.

Delegate Steve Landes, the co-hair of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, said that's one reason reforms need to be in place before Virginia rushes into a Medicaid expansion, like other states did.

"Now they're finding there's unintended consequences that, one, don't help the individual, and two, are rising the costs for that state," said Landes.

Earlier this year, ACEP's state-by-state report card said Virginia's emergency care system is already "under strain."

"The biggest takeaway is that emergency medicine is not being adequately supported by health policy and resources," said Rosenau.

Now ACEP is urging policymakers to make sure their states have the resources to care for more patients.

Governor Terry McAuliffe has asked his staff for a plan no later than September 1. Detailing how he could expand Medicaid, without approval from the General Assembly.


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