By MICHAEL MARTIN and JEFFREY STOCKMANAUSTIN, APU newsroomAs part of the U.S. Senate’s health care bill, lawmakers are expected to debate legislation that would allow states to waive some of the requirement that doctors get admitting privileges at local hospitals.
The measure also would make it easier for states to require patients with pre-existing conditions to get an emergency room visit before they go to a doctor, as long as the doctor has an emergency condition.
That could mean doctors in rural areas and the poorest and sickest could now have more time to see patients.
Critics of the bill have argued it is too generous, saying it would let states do away with patient care while creating incentives for hospitals to offer unnecessary and unnecessary care.
In addition to the bill, there are concerns that it could make it harder for people to get access to medical care, including in the event of an emergency.
States have already seen a rise in emergency room visits, including the rise in people needing emergency room care in 2016, according to the National Emergency Medical Services Association.
States are allowed to waive that requirement if they are satisfied with the quality of care provided to patients in their communities.
If hospitals are forced to stop providing services, they could face penalties.
There is no guarantee that a waiver would not lead to an increase in emergency rooms visits.
But a number of states have moved ahead with waivers, including Kansas, Texas and North Carolina.
The bill was written by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who introduced the bill.
He said the bill would give states flexibility in how they would handle emergencies.
“We’re going to make sure the state is able to make the best decisions, and that the state has to provide the best care,” he said in a statement.
The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the committee’s ranking member, said in her statement that she was not opposed to states waivers, but she was concerned about the provisions that would make the waiver more difficult for states.
She said the waiver provision would be easier to pass if it made it harder to get emergency room appointments and would require hospitals to change their procedures and practices to meet federal guidelines.
States that have already passed waivers are expected at a hearing Wednesday on the bill at the Capitol.
If the bill passes, it will take effect in three months.
It is unclear what would happen if a waiver is not approved, because it could lead to a reduction in state funding, Murkowski said.
“This legislation is not a tax, and we are not trying to raise taxes to provide services,” she said.