More ED Patients, But Fewer On-Call Specialists Available After ACA

From the AJMC:

Two state-specific studies in Annals of Emergency Medicine provided insight into emergency department (ED) use and staffing since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The studies showed that average monthly ED visits increased by 5.7% in Illinois, despite flat population growth, and that in Massachusetts, the availability of on-call specialists in the ED declined significantly even as ED visits climbed steadily. In Massachusetts, at least, it has become more difficult for patients to obtain the emergency specialty care they need, that study concluded.

“Emergency departments continue to be squeezed by pressures inside and outside the hospital,” said lead author of the Illinois ED study, Scott Dresden, MD, MS, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.   He added the study showed a large post-ACA increase in Medicaid visits and a modest increase in privately insured visits that outpaced a large reduction in emergency department visits by uninsured patients.

“We still don’t know if these results represent longer-term changes in health services use or a temporary spike in ED use due to pent-up demand,” he said.

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