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LETTER: EMTALA an important part of health care

Published: Sunday, November 20, 2011

Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011 10:11

 

To the editor:

I enjoyed reading Monday's opinion column about health care. Both sides made very good points. However, I would like to shed light on one key factor that is wrongly ignored in the health care debate, as it was in this column: The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Signed into law by President Reagan in 1986, EMTALA requires almost every hospital in the country to provide emergency care to anyone who needs it, regardless of whether or not they can afford it and that includes illegal immigrants. EMTALA was a precursor to Obama?s health care bill because it is based on the same underlying principle: Everyone is guaranteed free health care whether they can pay for it or not. Yet, ironically, no one ever talks about EMTALA when debating this critical matter.

As a firm opponent of Obamacare, I do not understand why Congressional Republicans are not fighting to repeal EMTALA in addition to Obamacare or why they did not retaliate against the passage of EMTALA in 1986. The federal mandates of EMTALA are not any less contradictory to our deeply held principles of economic liberty and free enterprise than are the mandates of Obamacare. Besides, EMTALA drives up the costs of medical care because hospitals have to charge more for their services when they are forced to provide them to customers who cannot pay them back. To abolish this burdensome mandate would be an excellent step in the right direction. If we are truly serious about repealing the health care bill and driving down medical costs, we must repeal EMTALA once and for all and stop ignoring the role it plays as an impediment to health care access and affordability.

 

Hannah Fjeldsted

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