February 17, 2017
ALBANY, NY – During the state legislative budget hearings on Thursday, State Senator Cathy Young (R, Olean) was questioning New York State Health Commissioner Mort Zucker, about a proposal of Governor Andrew Cuomo, that attempt to curb the problem of those who don’t have medical insurance, over using hospital emergency rooms as doctor’s offices visits. Senator Young says that that proposals contradicts federal law on this issue, and Young says that hospitals could end up getting sued for turning people away. “In his executive proposal, he has a provision about avoidable emergency room visits,” Sen. Young said to the state health commissioner. “People could basically, be turned away, if it’s deemed somehow that they are not rising to the level of an emergency situation. I’d like to point your attention to a law that was enacted in 1986, it’s a federal law, it’s the emergency medical treatment and labor act, that requires anyone coming to an emergency department to be stabilized and treated, regardless of their ability to pay or their status. It applies to an individual who comes to an emergency department.”
State Health Commissioner Zucker defended the governor’s proposal. “(It) serves a very critical purpose,” Zucker told Sen. Young. “For anyone to show up at an emergency room and get the necessary care, at least for stabilization. The commitment is to continue to provide that kind of care.” Zucker stated that the necessary care would be provided, and that at some point after the patient is stabilized, and after the patient is transported elsewhere. Senator Young pressed the commissioner, asking what would happen if there was a patient that was having a heart attack, that was undetected.