In the midst of a major public health emergency, should the uninsured receive care… even if they are not able to pay? Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) think so.
They have introduced legislation to provide emergency treatment for victims affected by a major public health disaster, regardless of their health insurance status or ability to pay. The Public Health Emergency Response Act (PHERA), is intended to guarantee that every American will be able to receive the medical treatment they need following public health emergencies such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or contagious diseases like the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak.
The bill allows for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to call for a temporary 90-day emergency health benefit for the uninsured, in the hope of saving lives and protecting the general public from communicable diseases. Funding will come from the already existing Public Health Emergency Fund.
The benefits of such legislation are many. In the event of a contagious outbreak, delaying or forgoing medical care would not only cause great loss of life, but would most certainly escalate the spread of disease to a wider population.
When it comes to health care reform, we are once again reminded that as much as we value individuality, we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. What happens to our neighbor has a great impact on what happens to us. With the numbers of uninsured climbing, it’s more important than ever to have a plan in place to meet the needs of the general public during a health crisis. Leaving some people out places us all in greater jeopardy.
For all our sakes, we can’t afford to get this one wrong.
Read and track this legislation:
Senator Bill: S.957
House Bill: H.R. 2231
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