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Summary of Final Changes to EMTALA Regulations

Summary of Final Changes to EMTALA Regulations

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by M. Steven Lipton, J.D. and Lisa Rediger Hayward, J.D.
In its application, EMTALA has reduced patient dumping, but at great cost to hospitals and physicians as an unfunded mandate. Despite 17 years of experience with the law, providers have been uncertain as to where and when, and to whom, the EMTALA obligations apply. The law has also proven to be burdensome and has been interpreted as extending far beyond the hospital emergency room. After reviewing the law for some time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final rules redefining the scope of EMTALA, reaffirming certain guidelines and modifying or clarifying others. The new regulations attempt to restate the parameters of the law as it applies to the emergency department and the hospital, as well as to inpatients and outpatients.