Emergency physicians in the state of Washington have filed a lawsuit against a state plan to classify more than 700 diagnoses as non-emergent, and limit Medicaid reimbursements to no more than three non-emergent visits to the emergency department each year.
"The state has been mandated to try to save $72 million over the next two years, and this will clearly impact emergency care," Stephen Anderson, MD, president of the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, told HealthLeaders Media.
"The list at the moment includes chest pain, hemorrhage during miscarriage, infections of the leg that can result in amputation, passing out for no reason, heart arrhythmia. It's frightening."
Anderson says the new restrictions could impact healthcare access for the poor and those most in need of care in at least 19 other states that have worked with Washington State to develop the policy, which went into effect on Oct. 1. "If this plan goes into effect, other states will certainly follow suit," he said.
The emergency physicians have asked a judge in the Superior Court of Washington for Thurston County to slap an immediate injunction on the new restrictions. In a media release, ACEP spelled out its concerns about the suit, alleging that the state: