It is imperative that Congress and the Obama Administration address the escalating crisis in our nation’s emergency departments. Every American expects emergency departments to provide expert medical care when they need it. Emergency departments are a vital part of every community - caring for critically ill or injured patients, as well as victims of epidemics, natural disasters and acts of terrorism. Emergency physicians also care for people who have nowhere else to turn and often are the only source of medical care available at night, on weekends and on holidays.
The consequences of our nation’s economic turmoil and mounting job losses can be seen every day in emergency departments across the country, where the newly uninsured increasingly are turning for care. Emergency departments are the health care safety net for everyone, insured and uninsured alike, and their role in America’s health care system has never been more critical.
As Congress tackles health care reform this year, it must not ignore the issues raised in the American College of Emergency Physicians’ National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine, which gave the nation a near-failing D- in the category of access to emergency care.
Recognizing the important role of emergency medicine and trauma care in this country and acknowledging the critical problems patients face when these services are not readily available, the "Access to Emergency Medical Services Act" was introduced in February 2009 by Reps. Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Pete Sessions (R-TX) in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 1188), and Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in the U.S. Senate (S. 468).