Federal bill addresses ED physician issues

Taking on a very tough problem, two federal legislators have re-introduced a bill which would reward doctors who provide ED- or other emergency-related care with 10 percent Medicare pay increases. The bill also establishes a commission which would look at related issues such as overcrowding in the ED, med mal issues in providing ED-based care, and the shrinking availability of specialists willing to take call. Right now, ED physicians end up with $140,000 in uncompensated care annually, compared with $12,000 on average for all physicians, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians. It's still in question, however, how the government would pay for this incentive even it is voted up. The legislators behind the bill, Reps. Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Pete Sessions (R-TX) say they can pay for the increase within the existing healthcare budget, but the Congressional Budget Office hasn't endorsed this idea as of yet.

To learn more about the bill and its prospects:
- read the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report item