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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'The Health Mandate Romney Still Supports'

Eliminate boredom at meetings blogging -- quick one -- Bruce Bartlett on Mitt Romney's (silly) claim that the individual mandate for health insurance is unnecessary because people can get the care they need at emergency rooms:

The Health Mandate Romney Still Supports, by Bruce Bartlett, Commentary, NY Times: Republicans ... are adamantly opposed to government paying for health care or a mandate requiring people to buy health insurance. At the same time, they recognize that they cannot say ... that if a dying person shows up at an emergency room without insurance, that person will be left to die in the street. Thus they support a little-known mandate requiring hospitals to treat the uninsured, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

Often referred to as Emtala, the bill ... was signed into law by Ronald Reagan... It was enacted because, previously, people had in fact been left to die in the street... Since then, Republicans have routinely cited Emtala as a key reason that the United States already has de facto national health insurance...

In fact, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act isn’t even remotely a substitute for health insurance... It does not demand that all hospitals care for whoever walks in, only those who require urgent care to avoid serious injury or life-threatening consequences. Only hospitals that both participate in Medicare and have emergency rooms are covered by the law...

A new report ... found that hospitals continue to engage in a practice known as “patient dumping” – turning away uninsured patients from emergency rooms despite the law. One reason they are able to do so is because in 2003 the George W. Bush administration eased the rules regarding Emtala. ...

The ... mandate on hospitals ... is a very inadequate and inefficient substitute for health insurance – something Mr. Romney used to acknowledge – and every bit as much a violation of Republican principles, which oppose unfunded mandates, as the individual mandate that they abhor.

    Posted by on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 10:01 AM in Economics, Health Care | Permalink  Comments (28)


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