Washington State sued by American College of Emergency Physicians

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The state of Washington is being sued by The American College of Emergency Physicians for its new health insurance mandate, allowing only three paid non-emergency visits to the emergency room for low-income Medicaid patients.

In a list published by the state, 700 common symptoms are defined as non-emergency situations, some of which worry emergency room physicians not only in the state of Washington but across the U.S. The list includes difficulty breathing, early-pregnancy hemorrhaging, gall stones, abdominal pains, dizziness and chest pains that are not related to a heart attack.

"The ACEP is opposing the limit primarily because of the list of diagnoses that the state is proposing to be non-emergencies, like chest pains and heart arrhythmias and dysrhythmias, which can result in sudden death, sudden blindness, and hemorrhages during miscarriage," ACEP Washington Chapter president Steve Anderson said in an interview with ABC News.

Stephen Anderson, president of the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said in a statement that the list provided by the state unfairly puts those who use Medicaid in danger.

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"This list of non-emergent diagnoses puts patients in danger and unfairly targets the poor and those in most need of care," he said. "We understand that our state Medicaid office is working with 19 other states to develop this policy. If this plan goes into effect, other states will certainly follow suit."

With emergency room costs soaring because of overuse, Washington state enacted the new policy to cut back on emergency room costs. The legislature expects to save the state $35 million with the new three-visit limit.

Dr. Nathan Schlicher at Saint Joseph Hospital in Seattle told local radio station 97.3 KIRO FM that the new limit would likely increase health care costs in the long term because the symptoms listed on the state’s list are indicators of bigger and much worse health problems.

"There's chest pain on this list, there's issues of kidney stones, there's hemorrhage and pregnancy, a threatened miscarriage," Schlicher said.

The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA), and the Washington Chapter of the Academy of Emergency Physicians (WCAEP) have all objected to the policy through statements they have released to the media.

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I am absolutely "appalled" and "SHOCKED" over what the State of Washington has now legislated, in denying the above "categories" in listing them as "NON-EMERGENCY". What are they thinking? I don't know WHAT part I can perform, as a tax-paying citizen, to STOP this kind of "absurd", "idiotic" and stupid legislation from going further; but when I find OUT, look out! I'll write ANYONE it takes: - Senators and Legislators in Washington, DC, legislators in EVERY STATE - I'll do EVERYTHING I can to "STOP" this kind of stupid and absurd legislation from getting ANY further! How DARE you, Washington State, DO such a thing! SHAME ON YOU!!!! If most of those legislators who are in positions of SACRED TRUST started having ANY or ALL of these symptoms, ...why, they'd be IN AN EMERGENCY ROOM WITHOUT DELAY, you can BET on it! I DO support trying to "teach" and "encourage" people having MINOR symptoms to "wait" until the following morning to see their Doctor, for such symptoms like: a simple "ear ache", a simple "tummy ache" indigestion from overeating, a "thorn" in your finger, and a myriad of other simple injuries and problems that can wait until the next day in the "doctor's office". BUT COME ON, Washington State, you KNOW that "kidney stones" (and I have MANY: teens of them in one kidney and almost a dozen in the other) can bring on a fatal HEART ATTACK, for which they DID for me in 2009, and I certainly would NOT want to be turned away from the ER for treatment of THIS scenario, and neither would YOU! I HAD chest pains which I was not even going to go to the ER for, in '09; however, after many labored with me TO go, I finally did; and to my surprise, I HAD, in fact, suffered a heart attack. We can only hope those making such stupid, restrictive laws start suffering the same problems THEMSELVES. THEN we'll "SEE" how the tide of opinion turns! I CERTAINLY DO NOT believe in beating DOWN the poor! It's "inhumane" to begin with, and irresponsible of "us" as Americans to DO these things when we're giving away MILLIONS, even BILLIONS of dollars in aid to fight against human rights, and treat HOSTS of others in OTHER COUNTRIES for the very same conditions! Because I live in the "Land of the Free" and the "Home of the Brave" does this now mean I should suddenly NOT be able to go to the Emergency Room anymore, if I think I'm having a heart attack, or a stroke, or ANY of the symptoms you listed above? THIS legislation will also result in MULTIPLE SUITS by those who have DIED without TREATMENT having these symptoms, which if you'd care to look, is calculated to result in MILLIONS OF DEATHS EVERY YEAR! Not when I'm an American Citizen and living in a country where we feel "privileged" just to HAVE these options and services. _Sincerely, WDS