Under the Romney plan (which would eliminate health insurance for 40 million Americans), and the Ryan plan (which would turn Medicare into what amounts for coupons adding millions more), already stretched-thin Emergency Rooms would be under even further pressure. Studies already show that emergency room care is not paid for a record 55% of the time, resulting in an average loss of $180,000+ per doctor, and those costs are passed on to the rest of the nation. This is considered one of the prime reasons why hundreds of emergency rooms across the nation have closed, with almost 500 having shut down since 1980.
Romney has already demonstrated that he understands the issue, however. In his book “No Apology,” he wrote on this very issue in regards to how he developed Romneycare for his state:
After about a year of looking at data — and not making much progress — we had a collective epiphany of sorts, an obvious one, as important observations often are: the people in Massachusetts who didn’t have health insurance were, in fact, already receiving health care. Under federal law, hospitals had to stabilize and treat people who arrived at their emergency rooms with acute conditions. And our state’s hospitals were offering even more assistance than the federal government required. That meant that someone was already paying for the cost of treating people who didn’t have health insurance. If we could get our hands on that money, and therefore redirect it to help the uninsured buy insurance instead and obtain treatment in the way that the vast majority of individuals did — before acute conditions developed — the cost of insuring everyone in the state might not be as expensive as I had feared.
He discovered, and admitted, that insurance for the poor costs less than emergency room care, to the tune of billions of dollars per year. In Massachusetts, it has been a rousing success, with Emergency Room care on the decline for the first time in decades.
The Massachusetts model also showed a dramatic decrease in overall emergency room visits, and not just for the uninsured. Massachusetts now has some of the lowest emergency room wait times in the US. Studies have found that the causes of this are due to easier access of preventive care along with primary care physicians being able to offer more services. As a result, Massachusetts healthcare costs have dropped, while across the rest of the US they continue to climb.
The real irony is that the use of emergency care as primary health care has been one of the few things to prevent the US from falling victim to far worse conditions. Quick identification of communicable infections such as Tuberculosis, SARS, and influenza have prevented these deadly diseases from reaching epidemic status, and a large part of these outbreaks of illness come from the uninsured: the pool of people least capable of preventive care.
The Romney statement is pandering to the ill-educated portion of the electorate. His own words prove that he does, in fact, understand the problem. It is unbelievable in this day and age to have a man of his intelligence and caliber resorting to discredited, ill-conceived talking points while trying to pander to votes he has anyway. And some wonder why he is behind in the polls?
- The Uninsured: Access to Medical Care
- The Future of Emergency Care: Key Findings and Recommendations
- The Effect of Insurance on Emergency Room Visits: An Analysis of the 2006 Massachusetts Health Reform
- Tackling Rising Health Care Costs in Massachusetts
- Illegal Immigrant Care in the Emergency Department
- Hospital Pandemic Influenza Guidelines in Acute Care Hospital Settings
- A Survey of Emergency Department 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Surge Preparedness—Atlanta, Georgia, July–October 2009
- Communicable Respiratory Threats in the ED: Tuberculosis, Inﬂuenza, SARS, and Other Aerosolized Infections