Medicaid policymakers are committed to preserving health care safety net

Jun 4, 2012

State Medicaid policymakers should not try to block patient access to emergency rooms in the name of cost savings.  That's according to Doctor Brad Uren. He's president-elect of the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians.

He's responding to a recent controversial rule in Washington State that would deny payment to emergency rooms for certain Medicaid patients.  Some of these patients may have alarming symptoms but are later diagnosed with non-urgent conditions.  After political push-back, the state held off on these so called "retrospective denials."

Doctor Uren thinks Medicaid policymakers in the state are committed to protecting the health care safety net.  He thinks it's unlikely these denials will occur in Michigan.

"Fortunately in the State of Michigan, we've enjoyed a good working relationship with the Michigan Department of Community Health and Medicaid, and I believe that everyone at the administration level is really working to protect the safety net.  They understand the facts, and that is that emergency care is not often administered to people that don't require emergency care."

National data suggest that 8-percent of emergency room patients don't have urgent conditions.  It's thought that some of these patients may report not having regular access to primary doctors.

- Nishant Sekaran, Michigan Radio Newsroom