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Monday, January 7, 2008

The Cost of Standing Up

Most people don't consider the effects their actions have on others. As advocates and activists, we have to consider everything. Every idea we generate, every cause we fight for, will have effects far beyond our simple circle.

Take for example Colorado's institution of the CICP (Colorado Indigent Care Program). Initially the program was to be a safety net for those who for one reason or another were indigent, unable to pay for their medical care.

I have been speaking to a young lady who's experience tells another tale.

Recently she broke her arm when she fell while running for a bus. It was a homeless man who helped her up and out of the street to prevent her getting run over. Chalk one up for a marginalized citizen being there for another when needed, first of all.

The problem is this, she was turned away from several facilities because her broken arm was not life threatening, thus in their definition, not an emergency condition.

Excuse me?

They went further by stating the would not treat her without prepayment.

Say what?

That's right, she was turned away because she did not have insurance, cash up front, or a CICP card. Education time, boys and girls.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, EMTALA) is a United States Act of Congress passed in 1986 as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions. As a result of the act, patients needing emergency treatment can be discharged only under their own informed consent or when their condition requires transfer to a hospital better equipped to administer the treatment. (Source: Wikipedia.org)

This law is not abrogated or mitigated by ANY state or subsequent Federal law.

Of course, in at least one case, it doesn't surprise me. University Hospital (one of the above guilty parties) had another incident years ago. A man was working for the hospital and had a heart attack. His supervisor from the hospital came to his INTENSIVE CARE room and informed him he could either take early retirement from the hospital or he would be fired immmediately.

Understand, University Hospital is a part of the University of Colorado educational system. If student nurses and doctors are seeing their instructors and residents making illegal decisions like there is nothing wrong with them, they too are learning to ignore the law. This is not the kind of scenario I would want my niece to learn from, and she wants to be a pediatrician.

God help us if this kind of criminal conduct is allowed to pass unchallenged.

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