News: Members of Congress propose urgent care as solution for ED overcrowding

CDI Strategies - Volume 18, Issue 10

Members from the House of Representatives recently penned a letter to CMS urging it to implement policies that would “encourage patient with non-emergent needs to visit urgent care centers rather than emergency rooms,” HealthLeaders reported.

Over the past decade or so, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency department (ED) crowding has become a nationwide issue. According to CMS, the median wait time for patients in EDs has increased from two hours, 18 minutes in 2014 to two hours, 40 minutes in 2022.

"Despite growing acknowledgment of the challenges caused by overcrowding in emergency rooms,” the Congressional letter read, “few efforts to mitigate this problem have been successful. Resolving these issues will require significant public and private investment, and we believe that urgent care centers are an easily accessible resource that can reduce crowding by providing treatment to non-emergency patients in a more appropriate setting."

The letter concluded by stating that CMS should “explore policy options in the FY2025 Physician Fee Schedule to encourage Medicare beneficiaries and Medicaid enrollees to utilize UCCs [urgent care centers] for non-emergent, urgent care needs.”

Editor’s note: To read the HealthLeaders coverage, click here. To read the Congressional letter, click here.

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