Health overhaul may mean longer ER waits, crowding

By: Carla K. Johnson
By: Carla K. Johnson

CHICAGO (AP) - Emergency rooms are the only choice for patients who can't find care elsewhere. They may grow even more crowded under the nation's new health law.

That may come as a surprise to those who thought getting 32 million more people covered by health insurance would ease ER crowding. But experts predict a shortage primary care doctors will force many newly insured patients to visit emergency rooms for their health care.

That's happening now in Massachusetts where a 2006 law requires
insurance for almost everyone. ER visits there are continuing to rise.

Many ERs closed during the 1990s, leaving fewer to handle the load. American College of Emergency Physicians president Dr. Angela Gardner says the nation is starting with crowded ERs and things may
only get worse.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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