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Bono Takes Critical First Step to Address Uncompensated Medical Care

Location: Washington, DC


As the nation's medical emergency rooms grapple with record numbers of admitted patients, Congresswoman Mary Bono (CA-45) today introduced critical legislation that will amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and allow doctors to partially offset the cost of providing uncompensated care that is required under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

The Mitigating the Impact of Uncompensated Service and Time Act of 2007 (MUST Act) is designed to alleviate the financial burden placed on physicians, who are federally mandated to provide emergency medical care; which is seldomly reimbursed.

"This legislation is a critical first step to address the broader issue of uncompensated care," stated Bono. "We must take action to reform a broken system. Our failure to reimburse surgeons and physicians, who are required by EMTALA to provide emergency medical treatment services and who face higher medical liability exposure, is increasingly affecting the medical community and emergency rooms across the nation."

The MUST Act comes on the heels of alarming statistics that indicate numerous factors including: shortage of board certified medical surgical specialists, emergency trauma center overcrowding, fractured emergency care, increased medical liability, and failure to reimburse uncompensated care are affecting the availability of specialists to provide emergency and trauma care.

"As the number of uninsured Americans continues to rise, so does the number of emergency department visits by people who have no where else to turn for their health care needs," said Thomas Russell, MD, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons. "But hopefully by providing physicians a deduction equal to the amount of the Medicare fee schedule payment, the legislation will help to encourage more physicians to take calls at many of our nation's overburdened hospital emergency departments."

"I am hopeful that this Congress will work to achieve significant medical compensation reform," added Bono. "Significant reform is critical to strengthening our emergency medical community and to ensuring that medical and trauma services remain available to all in need."

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