Plan Pushed by Wash. State EM Physicians and Hospitals Saves State Money, Improves Patient Care
Emergency physicians and EM groups across the nation—including Ohio ACEP—have been closely following Washington State’s attempts to bridge budget deficits by denying payment for Medicaid visits to EDs that are later deemed “unnecessary.”
Washington ACEP—along with other medical associations, hospitals and patients’ advocacy groups—protested the plan, arguing that the policy would deter patients from seeking medical care for potentially serious medical conditions. By educating legislators about the bad policy, Washington ACEP and its allies successfully prevented it from taking effect.
As an alternative to the proposed “zero tolerance” policy on ED visits, Washington State’s emergency physicians—including Dr. Nathan Schlicher, who is now also a Washington State Senator—proposed seven best practices to reduce costs to the state.
State Senator Nathan Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor) has led the fight against the state’s zero tolerance policy and is now a member of the cooperative coalition behind the successful new plan. State Senator Schlicher is an emergency physician, a former member of Ohio ACEP and a graduate of the Chapter’s 2008 Leadership Development Academy.
A preliminary report on the first six months of the program indicates these proposals have led to a 10 percent savings in Medicaid costs while quality of patient care has increased. According to The Seattle Times, the cooperative approach has also led to a 23 percent decline in visits by so-called “frequent flyers”—patients who seek care repeatedly in emergency departments.
In a statement released by National ACEP, Dr. Schlicher hailed the program as a potential model for the nation.
“These best practices are helping Medicaid patients connect with regular sources of medical care, which helps them avoid medical emergencies,” said State Senator Schlicher. “It’s good patient care, and it’s saving the state money.”