Emergency Room Visits Increase Under Universal Coverage

Responding to an op-ed by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick calling his state’s plan a “Health-Reform Model,” the president-elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Dr. Angela Gardner, cites:

A study just published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine shows a 9% increase in emergency room visits since the commonwealth [of Massachusetts]’s universal health-care plan was signed into law in 2006.

Dr. Gardner continues:

While the American College of Emergency Physicians supports universal health-care coverage, please do not perpetuate the myth that universal care will decrease emergency department visits. The evidence clearly says otherwise.

Thus, the drumbeat claim that government health-care will be at least partially funded by “savings” from shifting people from expensive emergency room care to affordable preventative care can now be shelved as simply another piece of “all the misinformation that’s been spread over the past few months” President Obama criticized in his Sept. 9 speech to Congress.

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute. Having received her A.B. in economics from Stanford University, she is Managing Director of Lightning Ventures, L.P., a San Francisco Bay Area investment firm, former Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army of both San Francisco and Alameda County, and Vice President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.
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