OIG finds ongoing problems with EMTALA

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) released two final reports on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) last week that point out continued ongoing difficulties associated with the EMTALA requirements.

The first report, "Survey of Hospital Emergency Departments," found that most emergency department staff are familiar with EMTALA, but many are unaware of recent policy changes.

The OIG claims managed care reimbursement practices create special problems in complying with EMTALA. It also reports that respondents raised concerns about the cost of uncompensated care and the difficulties in staffing on-call panels.

The second report, "The Enforcement Process," found that tracking systems are inadequate and peer review is not always obtained before the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) considers terminating a hospital for medical reasons. The OIG recommended that HCFA increase its oversight of regional offices, improve data collection and access, and establish an EMTALA technical advisory group.

HCFA concurred with the OIG’s conclusions and recommendations from the reports.