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Under Obamacare, Emergency Rooms May Get Even More Crowded

Posted by BestPractices on July 7 2013

Under Obamacare, Emergency Rooms May Get Even More Crowded

Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30, 2013

On any given Saturday night, all 36 beds at UC San Diego Medical Center’s Hillcrest emergency room are likely to be occupied, and incoming patients can often be found lying on gurneys in the corridor. A grimacing patient with a gaping knee wound holds the screen of his mobile phone over the gash for extra illumination one weekend this spring as a doctor stitches him up. “There’s nothing more appalling than being treated in a hallway,” says James Dunford, medical director of the city of San Diego’s Emergency Medical Services system, who also works at Hillcrest. “Soon,” he says, “it’s going to be worse.”

Dunford anticipates that the Affordable Care Act will bring a surge of patients to his ER and those around the country—the opposite of what’s supposed to happen. The law’s backers argued it would help alleviate stress on overcrowded emergency rooms. The 25 million people expected to receive insurance under Obamacare, they reasoned, would make appointments with a doctor instead of turning to ERs for care.

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