Emergency room visits have increased under ObamaCare despite the law’s intention to reduce their use for standard medical care, a new survey finds.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), which conducted the survey, pointed to the shortage of primary care doctors and the low payment rates from Medicaid, which accounts for much of ObamaCare’s coverage expansion.
"America has severe primary care physician shortages, and many physicians will not accept Medicaid patients because Medicaid pays so inadequately,” Dr. Michael Gerardi, president of ACEP, said in a statement. "Just because people have health insurance does not mean they have access to timely medical care.”
The inability to get a timely appointment with a primary care doctor leaves people still relying on emergency rooms, he argues. One of the goals of ObamaCare was that, as people gained insurance, they would be able to go to other doctors and not rely on emergency rooms as much.
Fifty-six percent of the doctors surveyed said their ERs have seen an increase in Medicaid patients.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services responded to the survey on Monday by pointing to efforts to educate people on their new coverage and train new doctors.
"For people who have utilized emergency rooms for non-emergency care in the past, we are continuing to work to reach out and provide information on how to best use their new coverage," said CMS spokesman Aaron Albright. "The Affordable Care Act is also making critical investments to train more doctors and nurses, especially in communities that have lacked access to quality, affordable care in the past.”
Doctors also said they are largely unprepared for more patients, with 70 percent saying their ER is not prepared for significant increases.
A plurality also said a Supreme Court ruling eliminating ObamaCare subsidies, in the case of King v. Burwell, would cause even more visits, with 42 percent saying the number of ER patients would increase.
This post was updated at 5:57 p.m.