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Emergency Care Improvement Act aims to expand emergency healthcare access

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | August 02, 2022 Emergency Medicine
AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers (NAFEC) applauds Representative Jodey Arrington (R-TX 19) and 10 co-sponsors for introducing H.R. 8597 - The Medicare Emergency Care Improvement Act. This important legislation would expand emergency medical access to rural Americans, improve the quality of urban care and provide permanent Medicare and Medicaid recognition to freestanding emergency centers (FEC), allowing patients to keep vital emergency medical access they have been able to access during the pandemic.

"FECs are an essential part of our nation's healthcare system, providing high-quality, cost-effective care to millions of patients each year," said NAFEC President Rhonda Sandel. "Many FECs have been providing care to Medicare beneficiaries since the beginning of the pandemic under a temporary program established by CMS. But unless the statute is updated to provide permanent recognition, these beneficiaries will lose access to their FECs when the Public Health Emergency terminates. We are grateful for Rep. Arrington's leadership working to preserve and expand access to quality emergency care for all Americans."

In April 2020, as a response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and to expand patient access, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a waiver allowing FECs to enroll as Medicare-certified hospitals and receive Medicare reimbursement for the duration of the pandemic. Nearly 60 percent of FECs nationwide enrolled in the temporary program and showed the benefit of long-term implementation. Since the waiver was implemented, an actuarial study of Medicare claims found more efficient care with a 22 percent cost reduction across all acuity conditions.

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"In 2010, Texas began licensing FECs, and now there are more than 200 across several states. The benefit these facilities provided throughout the pandemic is undeniable; however, in classic fashion, the government has lagged behind the pace of healthcare innovation," said Rep. Arrington. "Unless Congress enacts a law providing permanent recognition to FECs prior to the end of the public health emergency, Medicare beneficiaries will face a critical lack of emergency care options. I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting the Emergency Care Improvement Act to expand healthcare access across the board."

The bill has also been endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

FECs place emergency care directly into communities. With ER physicians on-site 24/7, advanced imaging, lab and licensed pharmacy services, they provide a new model of care delivery. Patients with emergency conditions can be seen, diagnosed and stabilized quickly, reducing costs and saving lives.

The National Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers (NAFEC) is a member-based association representing freestanding emergency centers across the country. The Association works with national leaders to ensure this industry's fair regulation and growth, as well as raise public awareness of the industry and promote an overall understanding of the unique benefits of freestanding emergency centers.

SOURCE National Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers

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