Iowa Doctors March In D.C. Over Emergency Care

From the Iowa Channel:

Iowa emergency room physicians Tuesday joined doctors and nurses from around the country to march on the nation’s capitol.

The group’s goal is to improve the emergency medical care that it gives to patients.

An ambulance rushed to Mercy Medical Center with a trauma patient. It’s part of a busy day’s work for the doctors and nurses.

“We take care of the people. That’s our first priority,” said Dr. Rob Hatchitt, of Mercy Medical Center.

Hatchitt has seen the challenges grow in emergency medical care. He said challenges include overcrowding and a growing number of uninsured people seeking care.

“A lot of people don’t have primary doctors. They come here. When you have 30 people waiting, that can lead to problems,” he said.

Hatchitt also said Iowa hospitals face among the lowest re-imbursements in Medicare cases. Doctors also said many physicians no longer practice medicine because of high malpractice insurance costs, which also adds to the burden for hospitals.

Those issues brought thousands of doctors and nurses to march on Washington, D.C, to ask Congress to ask members to pass the Public Access to Emergency Medical Care Act.

The Emergency Medical Services Act would extend liability protection to emergency room physicians.

Dr. David Stilley, of Mercy, led the state delegation.

“It was pretty exciting to see all these people in white coats — asking for support of all Americans,” Stilley said.

Among other things, the measure would provide supplemental funding for emergency departments and financial incentives for hospitals that can reduce the time patients remain in the emergency room.

“We’re saying something needs to be done before things get worse,” Hatchitt said.

Mo. settles antitrust probe of two ambulance companies

From Modern Physician

Missouri signed its second antitrust settlement with an ambulance company in the past two weeks, recovering $2 million from Medical Transportation Management, St. Louis, for alleged overbilling and $400,000 for costs of the investigation.

MTM also agreed not to collect $17.4 million already billed to the state Medicaid program. The company, which provides services in 12 states, did not admit wrongdoing and said it settled to avoid prolonged litigation.

Attorney General Jay Nixon was investigating whether MTM and a rival company, LogistiCare, College Park, Ga., rigged a state Medicaid contract for nonemergency medical transportation. LogistiCare won the state contract in 2004, but Missouri canceled the agreement only a few months later.

MTM, which had held all the previous state contracts since 1997, was the only bidder for the next contract and subcontracted a portion to LogistiCare. The companies had planned to merge at the time the contract was awarded, but their letter of intent expired without a merger in June.

Both companies are eligible to bid for a new Medicaid contract, which the state expects to award shortly. LogistiCare settled its part of the investigation earlier this month by agreeing to pay $150,000 and drop a suit against the state over the contract cancellation.

LogistiCare President and Chief Executive Officer John Shermyen said the company viewed the settlement as a “vindication” of its conduct because the state said it could bid on the new contract and took no action against the company.

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