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What a Horrible Idea

Published on November 5th, 2017

The Huffington Post reported on Republican Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) who proposed that hospital emergency rooms should be able to turn patients away to help keep health care costs down.  Black is running for governor of Tennessee.

At issue is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which was signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan in 1986. It was a congressional response to stories of “patient dumping” ― hospitals would deny treatment to patients or send them elsewhere, usually because the individuals didn’t have insurance. Many of these patients were unemployed or were people of color.

Those transferred individuals were more likely to die, and the delayed care often jeopardized the patients’ health.

The law put a particular focus on pregnant women (hence “active labor” in the law’s name), to ensure that they would be able to deliver their babies and receive full care.

Changing the law, as Black advocates, would send America back to a time when hospitals can use their discretion to turn people away.

“We must treat everybody that walks in whether you’ve had a sore throat for a week, we must see them. And that crowds the emergency room. It drives the cost of emergencies up,” Black added on MSNBC.

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