OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington state is preparing to limit Medicaid coverage of emergency room visits for non-emergency care.
State officials have notified clients that they will get coverage for only three of those visits each year starting Saturday. Additional visits will not be covered, and patients may be billed for that care.
Medicaid leaders have been trying to change the behavior of clients who repeatedly turn to emergency rooms for minor care, driving up costs. The Legislature has estimated that the state could save $35 million a year under the new limits.
Advocates are concerned that the state's list of non-emergency ailments includes conditions that need emergency attention, such as chest pain, nonspecific congestive heart failure and kidney stones. They say this will put people's health at risk.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)