February 8, 2012
notice published on Feb. 2, 2012, in the Federal Register, the Centers for
Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) solicited public comment on the applicability
of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) to inpatients
and hospitals with specialized capabilities.
Also known as the patient anti-dumping statute, EMTALA generally requires
that individuals with potential emergency medical conditions be provided an
appropriate screening and stabilizing treatment or transfer, regardless of
insurance or ability to pay. Under current law, an admitting hospital’s
obligations under EMTALA end when the hospital either stabilizes the patient in
the ED, admits the patient or completes an appropriate transfer.
When an initial hospital lacks the capacity or capability to stabilize or
admit the patient, another hospital with specialized services, such as an NICU
or a burn unit, is obligated to accept the transfer if the patient needs such
specialized capabilities. Under existing regulations and interpretive guidance,
however, a hospital with specialized capabilities does not have an EMTALA
obligation to accept a transfer from another hospital if the first hospital
admitted the patient as an inpatient.
Although CMS is not specifically proposing a change to this policy, it is
providing a 60-day period to allow the public to comment on the issue. (Comments
must be received no later than 5 p.m. EST on April 2, 2012.) CMS is particularly
interested in real-world examples and data, such as instances — or lack thereof
— of hospitals with specialized capabilities refusing to accept transfers of
patients requiring their specialized services.
For assistance with drafting comments to CMS or with any other EMTALA
matters, please contact
Healthcare Group offers a knowledgeable team of more than 50 lawyers
experienced in serving the needs of the healthcare sector. We understand the
daunting array of legal and business issues that our clients face and we work to
find effective solutions to their daily challenges. We have a wide array of
experience with complex healthcare issues, including extensive experience with