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Annals of EM: Obamacare Could Reduce Uncompensated ED Care

For decades, hospital emergency departments have suffered large shortfalls in reimbursement because of the high rate of uninsured Americans. But according to a new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as “Obamacare”) could reverse that longstanding trend.

"Historically, emergency departments have carried the bulk of the economic burden for uncompensated care in the health care system, which has led to hundreds of them closing," said Jessica Galarraga, MD, MPH, the lead author of the study. "Over the next few years, that picture could change substantially.”

By examining data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the study’s authors found that emergency departments could begin to receive 17 percent more in Medicaid reimbursement for outpatient emergency care and 39 percent more for currently-uninsured patients who move to the private insurance market under the ACA’s health insurance exchanges.

For more on this story, see National ACEP’s press release about the study, which will be published in the November issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine.

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