Our nation’s emergency departments continue to be put under the microscope, taking blame for our nation’s skyrocketing healthcare costs and burdened by unfair federal and state-level regulations and policy. In Virginia, as in many other states, emergency medicine has been threatened by surprise bills and fair coverage issues, declining reimbursement rates, and over-utilization by patients who have nowhere else to turn.
VACEP is waging a counter-assault on those who attack the practice of emergency medicine in the Commonwealth. While we are fighting hard against these attacks, the reality is that doing so is often a costly and contentious process.
Unlike Political Action Committees (PACs), the Statewide Action Trust (STAT) can focus on regulatory and legal actions. Contributions made by Virginia emergency medicine groups can be used to help in the implementation of regulatory changes and challenge rules or policies that are inappropriately developed. STAT funds do not support political candidates.
We are asking for group contributions of $0.5 cents per chart based on last year’s visit numbers. For example, if your group saw 20,000 patients last year, you would donate $1,000. Our annual goal is $100,000 per year in contributions, given the potentially costly expenses to get our messages out to the legislators, regulators, and others impacted by emergency department visits.
Emergency Department Information Exchange: Virginia emergency departments will soon be linked together in a single, secure online network that will enable real-time collaboration among physicians, health care specialists and clinical and care management teams across the Commonwealth. VACEP successfully lobbied the 2017 Virginia General Assembly for $370,000 in state general funds to be leveraged with $3.7 million in federal funding (HITECH Act) to deploy the program. All hospitals with an emergency department and all Medicaid managed care organizations will be brought into the network by June 30, 2018. This groundbreaking initiative – a “gamechanger,” as insiders say – requires sharp focus by VACEP to ensure its launch, and success as it will be a multi-year project.
Balance billing has become a term used by the media to describe bills patients receive due to gaps in insurance coverage for out-of-network healthcare. We are building a coalition within Virginia to unite the entire house of medicine to advocate for fair coverage; VACEP will serve as the “tip of the spear” in combatting surprise bills and ensuring fair pay for physicians. It will require data collection and an effective public relations campaign.
Despite data showing a reduction in opioids prescribed by the emergency department, emergency medicine still remains a focus for many policy makers in the fight against opioids. STAT will fund an effort to increase emergency medicine’s voice in the matter and help come up with solutions for emergency departments to implement to help combat the opioid epidemic.
Serving the growing patient population with mental illness continues to challenge all emergency departments. VACEP is making progress on streamlining the admittance process of mental patients to psychiatric facilities, standardizing medical clearance of the psychiatric patient, and improving the flow for patients who are placed on an involuntary hold. However, much more work needs to be done and STAT will contribute to the efforts.
Increasing access to currently uninsured patients is important. Focusing on how it impacts the emergency departments is critical, including issues such as reimbursement and access to follow up care. STAT can help shape those policies as the evolve in Virginia.
One of the nation’s largest health insurers is refusing to pay for certain emergency visits in some states. The payer claims the policy is meant to reduce overuse of emergency departments for what it claims are non-emergencies. While this policy is not active in Virginia, we believe the policy or one similar to it may soon impact citizens – and by extension, emergency providers – in the Commonwealth. STAT funds will fund patient-focused campaigns to create awareness and counterattack such policy.
We are asking for a contribution of five (5) cents per chart based on 2017 visit numbers. For example, if you see 20,000 patients per year, you would donate $1,000. Our annual goal is $100,000 per year in contributions, given the potentially costly expenses to get our messages out to the legislators, regulators, and others impacted by emergency department visits.
The Statewide Action Trust is overseen by the Board of Directors of the Virginia Chapter of ACEP. A task force, consisting of all Chapter Officers and three designated board members, has been established to administer the fund. This task force closely monitors the issues impacting emergency medicine, meets to discuss pertinent developments, and communicates with the membership and other stakeholders on important topics.