Following the complete implementation of the the Affordable Care Act, it is expected that the emergency departments may begin receiving "considerably more" reimbursement.
A study forecasting how emergency department reimbursements could improve will be published online tomorrow in Annals of Emergency Medicine ("Anticipated Changes in Reimbursements for U.S. Outpatient Emergency Department Encounters After Health Reform").
"Assuming typical reimbursement patterns continue, emergency department reimbursement for outpatient visits to the ER may increase by 17 percent for uninsured people who go on Medicaid and by 39 percent for uninsured people who move to the private insurance market," said lead study author Jessica Galarraga, MD, MPH, of the Department of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University in Washington D.C. "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. Over the next few years, that picture could change substantially."
"One question is what happens in the 13 states whose governors have announced they will not participate in Medicaid expansion, especially those with high rates of uninsurance?" said Dr. Pines. "Another is whether the reduction in disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments will outweigh the new sources of reimbursement. This is a time of great uncertainty, but one thing is sure: emergency departments cannot continue to provide top-notch medical care without an improvement in reimbursement."