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Newton Medical Center to require up-front emergency room payment

COVINGTON -- Newton Medical Center announced Friday afternoon that beginning Monday there will be a $150 up-front deposit for Emergency Room patients who are uninsured and who are not suffering from an emergency medical condition. Insured patients will be required to pay their co-pay or deductible.

The new rule will go into effect at 9 a.m.

"This is something we've been considering for sometime now," said Linda Mosely Komich, director of marketing and business development for the hospital. "Actually all other hospitals in the area do this in some form or fashion. This not about making money. This is about preserving the emergency department for what it was intended -- it was intended for emergencies."

The statement went on to say, "Per the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA,) all patients will continue to receive a medical examination and offered treatment. If a patient is determined to have an emergency, they will continue to receive care, regardless of ability to pay. However, if a patient is determined not to have an emergency, and still requests further treatment, they will be required to pay a $150 initial deposit via cash, credit or debit card for services rendered. Patients that choose to seek care elsewhere will be given a community resource guide for available services."

Mosely emphasized that residents who feel they are suffering an emergency, whether they have money to pay or not, should seek medical assistance.

"Nobody should ever hesitate to come," she said. "Come to the hospital if you are having an emergency."

Comments

Newtownqq 1 year, 5 months ago

I think this is a way to crack down on those who abuse our ER resources. Some people rush to the ER if they have a runny nose, thats not what the ER is intended for. On the other hand there are millions of uninsured Americans and this is the only way that they can get care. I ask who will decide the if the situation is an emergency or one that requires the $150 deposit. Will that decision be made by a doctor, or will it be the Administrators call? Also I want to remind the public that through our SPLOST we are funding a expansion of the ER in order to handle a greater number of paitents. This is our tax money going to a for profit company who now requires a hospitial deposit. The hospitial should be recieving a ER expansion of around $4-5 million in SPLOST, where is this going? I dont see any expansion plans!

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henrystamm 1 year, 5 months ago

Very good move. It is time that the Medical Center stops giving out free aspirins. Sadly under the obama tax plan life in Newton County is going to be worth and much more expensive. You get what you voted for!

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CW 1 year, 5 months ago

Why would anyone think that the ER is "this is the only way anyone can get care"? Family members have held at jobs which did not provide medical insurance, and they went to regular doctors if medical issues were not bona fide emergencies, during regular office hours. I agree with the poster who questions what SPLOST funds are being used for, and it is true that NMC is now a for-profit enterprise. Our hospital taxes are high too. I agree that people should not (ab)use the ER during regular office hours, whether they have medical insurance or not.

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MOH888 1 year, 5 months ago

“Expensive”/“you get what you vote for”? Please tell me when the WE was omitted from DEMOCRACY. WE must remember that EACH of us has a voice. When those voices are combined WE CAN make a difference, even after the votes are cast. Let us not forget, that WE have a system of checks and balances.Let us also remember that our president is not the only one in office.There are 535 others that WE CAN communicate with. This doesn't include the number of other officials that WE CAN express our concerns to. Also, please see the comments from a healthcare provider in the following article. @Newtonqq, I think you state some valid points that need further consideration. My concerns are along the same lines. I will also pose this question to the public: who and by what standards of evaluation determine if the patient is experiencing an emergency?

'Medical-insurance companies, such as BCBS, could start charging more for your ER visit if you go there for something that doesn't qualify as an emergency. That is worrying some doctors."What people define as an emergency is really independent of each person," said Dr. Nick Vasquez, who has worked in the ER at St. Joseph's Hospital for 8 years."For some people it's 'Oh, my headache is so bad,' for others it's 'The tumor has become so big I can't hide it anymore.' Vasquez said insurance companies are putting too much credibility in a patient's final diagnosis and not in the patient's symptoms. According to him, an ER works as a one-stop shop that takes care of everything from life-and-death medical treatment to prescription refills. Vasquez is the first to admit that not all of his patients' ailments are emergencies, but that doesn't mean they aren't urgent. Many of the patients come in because they can't get an appointment with the doctor provided by their insurance. "We have a shortage of doctors in Arizona, and there is no way any of my patients will be seen in a short amount of time," said Vasquez. "Call your primary doctor if you have one. Ask what's the soonest they can see you, and think about that if you got a cold, or you have chest pains, or you feel weak in your right arm. If you wanted to see your primary doctor, would you wait 3 weeks? "Vasquez said that almost every one of his patients is insured. Even if the treatment isn't an emergency, he thinks the ER serves a purpose in making sure people can at least receive fast treatment they wouldn't otherwise receive in a timely manner. "People don't want lectures, they want help," he said. "And if they can't get it from their clinic, they can get it from us. I just hope we can continue to deliver a valuable service like that." According to numbers from the American College of Emergency Physicians, 7 out of 10 Americans oppose health-plan efforts to deny payments for ER visits, and E.R. care is just 2 percent of the total health-care costs in the U.S. The CDC reports that only 8% of ER visits are for non-urgent medical conditions.

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jwm1955 1 year, 5 months ago

Good old Obama care, someone decides other than the doctor and patient gets the medical care they need to live or die. America is turning into a communist country.

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John 1 year, 5 months ago

MOH888, I agree that we have 535 representative in Congress that we can communicate with but by and large there is a "well earned" and severe credibility gap. Case in point, there was a certain Blue Dog representative that came to Newton County and spoke to people (including me) at EHS. The folks, including me, expressed their concerns over the proposed House Bill for Obamacare. This well spoken & likable "Blue Dog" flat out said he was not for it & will vote against it. When the bill came up for vote, he voted in favor of it ,maybe he just didn't under stand the difference in Yeah & Nay or he just wanted to say what he thought we wanted to hear (i.e. he lied) as it was getting close to election time or a special interest thing kept him from having the courage of his stated convictions. He had to find a new line of work after that November election. Any other "effective' suggestions?

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Newtownqq 1 year, 5 months ago

I had the chance to speak with several BOC memebers concerning the SPLOST funds that NCM will get to expand the ER. The BOC decison to fund this project was to offset the costs of those uninsured ER visits. The hospital is now a for profit operation and take our tax dollars but don't treat all patients. Our county needs to stand up and not fund for profit industries with tax dollars! What happens to someone who needs to go the ER but not able to pay? This could scare someone from not going to get emergency care, and God forbid that they die!! Newtown hospitial as of today will not comment on the SPLOST project, they also admit they are for profit!

When they take Newton County tax dollars they have an obligation to all Newton County residents!!! They say they can refer you to other agenices, who are these agencies? Oh they are government programs! The County BOC needs to stop all funding of this hospital til they decide if they take our taxes they must sever us all!

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MOH888 1 year, 5 months ago

@John, the definition of the term “effective” will vary with individual perception where politics are concerned. I can neither confirm nor deny what you state about the “blue dog”, as I was not present to witness these events. Know the intent of my previous post was not to bash our president or any political party.I was merely pointing out that we do have a voice and we can make a difference, even after votes are cast. As far as what I would suggest, first know that I am no subject matter expert in this field. However, I have worked for the private sector and know something of business. I’m in transition of a career change geared towards public service. In short, I will state that I am an individual pursuing an education in the health care sector and political science is a focus of my current studies. Therefore, I will offer a broad suggestion: Research this issue, understand the strategy behind it & be civically engaged. In addition, understand that officials can be contacted, as well as interest groups or other organizations that have dealt with, or are also concerned over, similar issues. Know that when contacting officials, it may be wise to ensure an assertive tone is maintained throughout the communication; while having the understanding that as constituents we have a right to voice our concerns. Also learn of opposing viewpoints and the reasoning behind them. More specifically, I suggest learning of the EMTALA, the new health care bill and of Georgia’s current stance on this. I think it is morally wrong to deny health care to those who are in urgent need of it whether they can afford it or not. Is this always a wise business decision? No, perhaps not in the short term. In the long term, yes it could be a wise business decision to treat individuals that cannot afford treatment; based on factors such as a healthy community, so on and so forth. I think there are enough individuals that would agree with the moral aspect of this. (Enough individuals that would and could have an impact on a for profit business.)I will restate this: I’m concerned over the matter of “who and by what standards” the “emergency”/”urgent” care is determined. I think this is significant question that needs to be investigated. In one breath, one can summarize what is asserted here. If an individual enters the emergency room and considers themselves in need of urgent care, the individual will be asked to pay 150.00 up front. If it is determined that they are not in need of emergency care, but can pay and wants to be seen by emergency health care providers, then the ER will see them. Yet, if an individual cannot pay and it has been determined that they are not in need of emergency care, regardless of whether the individual may feel they are undergoing an emergency, the hospital will turn them away. There are too many variables in terms of emergency situations, to operate like this. We can take something such as the “gauging pain”, as one premise to argue this point.

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dennistay53 1 year, 5 months ago

Hope we aren't going to let people die over $150. Part of every homeowners tax dollar goes to the hospital in Newton County.

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Billy 1 year, 5 months ago

This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. All it takes is one misjudgment by the emergency room staff and the hospital will be out $$$. I wonder if the insurers of the hospital approved this?

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will 1 year, 4 months ago

This is a great idea, its unreal how many people go to the emergency room with a cold. Get ready for the race card to get thrown, I saw an Atlanta news station cover this story and the three white people that were interviewed all said it was a good idea but the one and only black lady that was interviewed said it was not fair. What is not fair about it, people should not use the ER for minor medical issues. I do not think its fair when im paying high insurance premiums every month that I have to wait for somebody thats got a sore throat. If you want to see what lives in this county go to the ER and you will not believe your eyes.

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