EMTALA Clarification

on the radar alert

Following President Biden’s executive order released Friday (July 11, 2022), HHS released guidance to clarify that emergency care covered under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) includes legally mandated, life or health-saving abortion services. Details on the announcement can be found here:  https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/following-president-bidens-executive-order-protect-access-reproductive-health-care-hhs-announces.

The EMTALA statute requires that Medicare participating hospitals provide all patients an appropriate medical screening, examination, stabilizing treatment, and transfer, as necessary, irrespective of any state laws or mandates that apply to specific procedures. Stabilizing treatment could include medical and/or surgical interventions, including abortion. If a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the health or life of the pregnant person — or draws the exception more narrowly than EMTALA’s emergency medical condition definition — that state law is preempted. A message from HHS Secretary Becerra to healthcare Providers, with additional information on how the recent changes in abortion law are to be addressed through the EMTALA statute can be accessed on the CMS link above.

We recommend organizations review the information on the link and discuss the content with their healthcare teams especially in Emergency Medicine services.

Please reach out to the C&A team with further questions or for assistance with your regulatory compliance needs.

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