U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Dallas), a Member of House Republican Leadership, today secured House approval of his amendment with Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA) to H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act. The Dent-Sessions amendment would provide vital resources to emergency room departments and extend liability coverage to on-call and emergency room physicians.
"I am pleased that the House has recognized the critical need to address the ongoing crisis facing our emergency room departments and to offer liability protections to physicians who perform the mandated crucial care to patients in the greatest need," said Sessions. "High quality health care in our nation's emergency rooms is currently being threatened by high costs, overcrowding, and the inherently risky nature of on-call and emergency physician care."
By law, emergency rooms must treat anyone who needs care regardless of if they have insurance or can afford it. Over the past several years, emergency rooms have seen an increase in patients due to the number of unemployed and/or uninsured people needing care. Additionally, hospitals have found it to be more difficult to secure emergency physicians and on-call specialists due to the increased likelihood of litigation -- caused by patients often being sicker, having more serious complications and having no pre-existing relationship with the treating physician.
The Dent-Sessions amendment would deem hospitals, emergency rooms, physicians and physicians groups that provide emergency care to individuals to be employees of the Public Health Service for purposes of any civil action that may arise due to health care items and services provided under the Public Health Service Act.
"During these increasingly tough economic times, the number of Americans seeking care in emergency rooms has surged," added Sessions. "That is why it is imperative for Congress to implement effective solutions, like those found in our amendment, to tackle the ever-growing emergency room care crisis. I am pleased that the House voted to include this common-sense amendment in the PATH Act to ensure that the American people receive the high quality care they deserve."