GOP Congresswoman Wants Emergency Rooms To Turn Patients Away

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The former emergency room nurse says that hospitals should be allowed to turn away patients who may be seen elsewhere so the government can save money.

Close-up of emergency room signage outside of a hospital

A GOP congresswoman landed in hot water for suggesting that emergency rooms should be free to refuse treatment, all in the name of saving some bucks.

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) told reporters that as a former emergency room nurse, she would often see patients who could have been sent elsewhere, which would have helped keep the costs covered by Medicare low, HuffPost reports.

“There are people that came into my emergency room that I, the nurse, was the first one to see them. I could have sent them to a walk-in clinic or their doctor the next day, but because of a law that Congress put into place to say, no, I have to treat everybody that walks into that emergency room,” she told MSNBC host Chuck Todd.

According to the Republican, the law is a burden because it “took away our ability to say, ‘No, an emergency room is not the proper place.’” The legislation in question that changed how emergency rooms in America operated was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, HuffPost notes.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act was passed by Congress after stories of patients being “dumped” by emergency rooms horrified legislators. In many cases, patients who were impacted the hardest didn’t have insurance. Several others were simply unable to afford insurance because of their employment status. Other times, people who were refused service were minorities.

Patients who were refused treatment or sent elsewhere would often suffer the consequences of delayed care, and many would even be more likely to die as a result.

If Black has her way, we would regress back to a time in America during which patients in need were left to die because the government put profit over people.

Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS, Aaron P. Bernstein

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