In order to curb medical costs, Washington state lawmakers have capped the amount of annual “non-emergency” visits Medicaid patients can make to emergency rooms at three. Furious about the seemingly arbitrary restriction on patients’ rights, a group of doctors has sued the state over the measure.
ABC News reports some of the medical problems the state considers to be “non-emergency” seem to be fairly worrisome, including early-pregnancy hemorrhage, abdominal pains and chest pains that aren’t related to heart attacks. Patients who make a fourth visit will be treated but have to pay for the cost out of pocket.
In its lawsuit, the American College of Emergency Physicians says the law should be overturned because it puts low-income patients at risk.
The ACEP’s president says:
“The ACEP is opposing the limit primarily because of the list of diagnoses that the state is proposing to be non-emergencies, like chest pains and heart arrhythmias and dysrhythmias, which can result in sudden death, sudden blindness, and hemorrhages during miscarriage. Their proposal is dangerous. It’s almost funny it’s so scary they would have them on the list.”
The law is meant to trim $72 million from state and federal medical expenditures. The state did not comment about the law or lawsuit.