Reforming health care using the Massachusetts model won’t relieve ER overcrowding

It’s looking more and more likely that federal health reform will look very similar to what’s going on in Massachusetts.

As I’ve written in the past, expanding coverage is easy, controlling costs is not. And Massachusetts has taken the route of least political resistance and did the former.

I’ve written previously that expanding coverage without re-aligning incentives to produce more primary care doctors will simply increase waiting times and crowed ERs statewide. Which is exactly what we’re seeing.

According to a recent study, “One in five adults said they had been told in the last 12 months that a doctor or clinic was not accepting new patients or would not see patients with their type of insurance. The rejection rates for low-income adults and those with public insurance were double the rates for higher-income residents and those with private coverage.”

That should be a warning sign that any potential public health option should be physician-friendly, or else it risks nationwide rejection by the medical profession.

Furthermore, “there has been little change in the use of emergency rooms for non-emergency treatment. Among low-income residents . . . 23 percent said their last trip to an emergency room had been for a non-emergency, the same as in 2006.”

Washington, take note.

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