A House committee is expected today to hear Jonesboro Representative Jack McFarland’s legislation that would require Medicaid patients to pay a copay if they use an emergency room for non-emergency treatment. McFarland says the bill is an attempt to stop Medicaid patients from using the ER for a common cold or minor medical issues.
"The provider would know exactly where to tell this individual where to go if they can't pay the copay. If the can pay the copay, they can stay right there in the emergency room.
The New Orleans Democratic Socialists of America Health Care Chairman Haley Sauicer says Medicaid recipients don’t abuse the system in receiving care.
"If someone on Medicaid is going to the emergency room for a non-emergency, it's because there isn't a doctor of facility in their area that is accepting Medicaid or new patients on Medicaid."
Sauicer says if Medicaid recipients are forced to meet copays in emergency rooms, they would be unable to receive the necessary medical care they need.
"Most people that are on Medicaid don't have the money for a copay at all."
McFarland points out that this bill would not apply in emergency situations such as a heart attack or stroke, but it would stop the abuse that some Medicaid patients have shown in the past.
"You don't go to the emergency department for a runny nose, for just a common cold. Many of the same things that the average tax paying constituent, we do not go to the ER for those things."
McFarland says his legislation will save millions of dollars a year and those savings can be used to pay doctors at partner hospitals, so they can treat Medicaid patients for minor medical care.