If anyone can communicate to a room full of emergency physicians the importance of the Affordable Care Act and what it means to the specialty, it’s Steven Stack, MD, FACEP. Not because he’s a longtime trustee for the American Medical Association (AMA). Or because he’s been an emergency department (ED) medical director in two states and currently practices in Lexington, Kentucky. And not even because he’s the AMA president-elect, the youngest in a century and the first emergency physician to hold the role.
Explore This IssueACEP14 Preview: Vol 33 – No 09S – September 2014
It’s all those reasons that make him a natural choice to give a top-down talk, “The ACA: The Rocky Road to Health Reform,” at the annual Colin C. Rorrie, Jr. Lecture at ACEP 14 in Chicago. The talk is at 12:30 p.m., Mon., Oct. 27.
“We have to accept that there’s a crying societal need or mandate that we have to get this right,” he said. “When we started this process in 2008–2009, 47 million Americans, or one in seven Americans, had no health insurance. In the United States, if you have no health insurance it’s a cash economy for health care, which means no coverage, no care. And we know for an undeniable fact that people with no health insurance live sicker and die younger.”
Dr. Stack, who takes over as AMA president in June 2015, will talk about the ACA’s impact on insurance coverage, current trends, and expected developments that affect emergency physicians. He said that despite the “chaotic “ implementation, giving millions of patients access, or increased access, to health insurance and specialists can be a good thing for emergency physicians because it will provide more options for patients who might currently end up in an emergency department.
“What we should want as emergent specialists [is for] patients to have…the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” Dr. Stack said. “Sometimes that’s the emergency department, sometimes that’s a primary care office, sometimes that’s a specialist. Sometimes we bristle, often rightfully, in the emergency community when others say, ‘The ER is too expensive, you just keep people out of the ER, and everything will be great.’ Any competent emergency physician knows that that’s a false way to look at that challenge.”
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.