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Washington Medicaid cuts could hurt patients

Posted On Wed, February 29, 2012

The American College of Emergency Physicians recently released a report showing residents of Washington state who use Medicaid may be at risk of being denied emergency healthcare.

The report noted that many residents who lived in Oregon would receive emergency care in their state, but if they were in Washington, this would not have occurred. In total, there would be as many as 18,000 people denied hospitalization in the emergency room, even if they were seriously ill. The report also said that while nearly $98 million of Medicaid money is used in Washington, less than 2 percent of it is spent on emergency healthcare.

"The Washington State Medicaid plan is flawed because it assumes that physicians know the final diagnosis when a patient walks in the door," said Dr. Robert Lowe, professor in the Department of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology at Oregon Health and Science University. "But many patients come in with minor symptoms that turn out to be serious medical conditions."

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