Study Shows ER Visits on the Rise Despite ObamaCare; Networks Say Nothing

The ObamaCare boosters in the mainstream liberal media are once again avoiding negative news on the health care law’s unintended consequences. According to a study released Wednesday by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), emergency room visits are on the rise, in spite of promises to the contrary by supporters of ObamaCare.

Not a single second was devoted to this news by either the Wednesday evening newscasts or morning news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC. Stephanie Armour and Louise Radnofsky of the Wall Street Journal broke the story in the Wednesday edition of the paper, having gotten a sneak peek at the study.

Of course, the government is in full defense mode. Armour and Radnofsky quoted a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human services arguing that:

This survey, looking at only the first three months of coverage, cannot speak to the long-term effects of expanded coverage, which will be shaped by our continuing efforts to help people use their new primary care and preventive care benefits...

As the Journal reporters point out, well before ObamaCare’s enactment, liberal states like Oregon and Massachusetts saw a spike in ER visits by low-income residents after health-insurance expansion to the poor. The same has held true in four states which expanded Medicaid at the start of 2014 (emphases mine):

ER physicians met Tuesday with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to press for a congressional hearing on the law's impact on ERs, such as longer wait times.

"The ACA is going to stretch EDs [emergency doctors] further and that has implications for how quickly we can get people through," said Robert O'Connor, chairman of emergency medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville and the doctor group's vice president. The group's survey was conducted in April and received 1,845 responses.

In Oregon, which expanded Medicaid coverage in 2008, ER visits rose 40% over 18 months among low-income residents who gained coverage compared with those who didn't, according to a January report in the journal Science.

After Massachusetts implemented its own system of near-universal insurance in 2006, ER visits rose an estimated 2.2% a year through September 2009, according to a study to be published in August in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Other research suggests that primary-care doctors aren't seeing more visits. New patients accounted for 17% of primary-care visits in this year's first quarter, down from 17.9% in the year-earlier period, according to a survey of 12,700 physicians by ACAView, a partnership of Athenahealth Inc. and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In four states that expanded Medicaid Jan. 1, Tenet Healthcare Corp. saw 25% more Medicaid ER visits in the first quarter compared with a year earlier. The rise was partly offset by a decline in ER visits by uninsured people. Overall, including states that didn't expand Medicaid, Tenet saw ER volumes rise 2.7%.

Conservatives have been accused of racism and disdain for the poor  by the liberal media for opposing Medicaid expansion, which would ideally reduce emergency room visits, and, in turn, health care costs. But now that there is clear evidence to the contrary, the broadcast media ignore both the ACEP’s study and the Journal’s excellent reporting.

The networks were content to lead the parade for ObamaCare when the distorted information showed that 7 million had enrolled in the exchanges. While this number was highly misleading–many had signed up only after losing their insurance because of ObamaCare –we saw coverage day after day of the great success that is ObamaCare.

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.