Markley Awarded Legislator of the Year by Emergency Physicians

November 14, 2014

Senator Markley receiving the legislator of the year award at the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians ceremony in Rocky Hill, CT.

Rocky Hill, CT – State Senator Joe Markley recently received The Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians legislator of the year award. Sen. Markley worked to pass a bill allowing Medicaid reimbursement for emergency departments across the state. The bill was passed with bipartisan support. The AAC Medicaid Reimbursement for Emergency Department bill allows emergency department physicians to be reimbursed separately from hospitals for treating Medicaid recipients.

“We all recognize that passing this bill was in the interest of everyone: your specialty, the patients, and the state,” said Sen. Markley.

Many of the patients who are seen in the emergency room and don’t have adequate medical insurance fall into the Medicaid category. These patients will never be asked about insurance coverage. They are given care regardless of status.

What is happening however is that hospitals are contracting out to private practices for their emergency room doctors. The doctors are not employees of the hospital. State law did not allow for emergency physicians to bill Medicaid directly for their professional fees but rather bundled the fees into hospital facility charges. This created a system that didn’t ensure these doctors were being paid equitably like their peers in private practice.

Dr. Michael Zanker, the legislative chairman for the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians testified, “Many studies have shown that the majority of the cost of healthcare today is generated by inpatient care. Emergency care accounts for 2% of our healthcare expenses. Yet our emergency departments are providing care to more patients every year, well over 100 million visits annually. The reasons for this are manifold and are based on the fact that or system is being overstressed. Private physicians are seeing more patients in their offices are more often unable to “fit in a patient during office hours”.

“Our community health centers and clinics are full and cannot take on new patients or unscheduled visits. Patients are referred to the emergency department of simply find the system too confusing to navigate and know the only place they can walk in and see a provider is in the emergency department. To fix our healthcare system will require cultural change, not just in how we deliver and pay for healthcare but in how we as a society expect healthcare. In the meantime, we as emergency physicians welcome the visits to our department and the satisfaction of caring for our fellow citizens.”

Markley points out there are safeguards in the new law. If the commissioner determines that paying a physician under this change increases the state’s cost, the commissioner must adjust the physician’s rates to ensure budget neutrality. The commissioner must do this in consultation with the Connecticut Hospital Association and the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians.