• Romney resurrects zombie idea about emergency departments

    He went there:

    Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured.

    “Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”


    Emergency departments don’t substitute for universal coverage. They really don’t. Health care is more than emergency room care. The ER isn’t the same as health care. Everyone doesn’t have health care because they can go to an emergency room. Being uninsured makes your outcomes worse, even in the ER. The care there still isn’t free.

    Zombie idea. Won’t die.


    • That is one of the most short-sighted comments I’ve heard/read from Romney. Besides the solid points Dr. Carroll points out, doesn’t this reactionary approach to health care increase the likelihood that people who can’t afford health care will be less healthy by the time they qualify for medicare? In other words, doesn’t this contribute to the increasing cost of medicare (unless you move away from a guaranteed benefit system)? How is this a fiscally responsibly policy?

    • I get the sense that Romney is a bad liar. He does not really mean that but he feels he must say it.

    • Besides, it means Romney is now a socialist.

      In 2007, Romney said that when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms and get free health care, that’s a “form of socialism.”

    • Kaiser State Health Facts informs us that in 2011 the federal government paid more than $11 billion in Disproportionate Share Hospital payments to hospitals that care for large percentages of Medicaid and uninsured patients. Under the Affordable Care Act this amount is supposed to go down as more of the uninsured obtain coverage. Does Mr. Romney believe that DSH payments to cover emergency room care for the unisured are more efficient than providing coverage for the primary care that prevent avoidable ER visits and inpatient admissions?


    • All good comments above, as Romney just shows arrogance and ignorance.

      However, I would be curious to know whether anyone has broken down the causes of ER usage.

      My naked eye observation in St Paul MN was that most ER visits were due to accidents, injuries, seizures, and heart attacks. I saw very few cases of uninsured persons seeking free primary care.

      I realize that this is a tiny sample. My gut feeling is that like so much of American health care, the deep south and the border west states are very different than the northern tier.

      But in general, my uneducated opinion that ER’s will be needed even if everyone has good insurance. Falling off a roof or being hit by a car does require a place to handle crises.

      And incidentally. I would like to see the government spend 3 or 4 times more than $11 billion on subsidizing ER’s. If we can call the fire department to protect our property and not worry about a huge bill, then we should be able to protect our bodies without risking bankruptcy also. Emergency care should be a civic responsibility. Given the precarious fiscal state of most local governments, federal funding is the answer. A one percent hike in the Medicare payroll tax would handle this with ease.

    • I see alot of people in our small area who have Medicade that use the er for a doctor’s office. It happens all the time, every day. They don’t have to worry about deductibles and co-pays, so they just go to the er. I pay for my insurance so I DO have to worry about these things. I think there needs to be better regulation on this. It is a waste of all our money. There should be penalities for going to the er for a non-er visit.

    • Every ER shpuld be attached to an urgent care clinic. The care clinics should be able to charge a nominal amount like $20 even to those with Medicaid.