Legislation would expand healthcare access for Medicaid, Medicare patients

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD, R-La., has introduced legislation that aims to expand healthcare access for Medicaid and Medicare patients, particularly for rural patients in areas with large numbers of freestanding emergency rooms, according to the senator’s office.

The bill is dubbed the “Emergency Care Improvement Act.”

It would expand access for patients by allowing freestanding emergency rooms to accept Medicaid and Medicare for higher acuity evaluation or management level services.

In urban and urban areas, freestanding emergency rooms would be paid 75 percent of Medicare’s hospital rate for higher acuity evaluation or management level services, according to KXAN, an NBC-affiliate TV station in Austin, Texas. Freestanding emergency centers in rural areas would be paid at 95 percent of Medicare’s hospital rate.

Representatives from the senator’s  office said the legislation also authorizes state Medicaid coverage for freestanding emergency rooms, but because Medicaid is a joint state-federal program, the state will be able to set their rates.


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