Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) promised this week that everyone would have "coverage" under the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act because federal law already requires emergency rooms to treat all patients.
During an interview on CNN's New Day, host Alisyn Camerota asked Meadows if he agreed with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who said on Tuesday that people would have to choose between insurance and a new iPhone.
"Well, they're already making choices now for those kind of things," Meadows replied. "I've talked to a number of people having to make choices between, you know, do they put food on the table or pay for the health care?"
"We're all in to help [President Donald Trump] to make sure we get more people covered at less cost. And so that's a choice that I don't want any American to make. I certainly don't want my family to make. As we look at that health care coverage, and certainly health care in general, it's something we need to make sure it's something everybody has access to."
Camerota pointed out that access and coverage were not the same thing: "You can't guarantee that everybody will have coverage."
"Well, we've got 318 million people," Meadows replied. "The goal is to allow access to all. There's a federal law right now that if you show up at a hospital, you get coverage, Alisyn. And so, it's a false narrative to suggest we have people who can't go in and get coverage. It's a federal law."
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), passed in 1986, requires hospital emergency rooms to provide assistance to everyone for emergency medical treatment. However, emergency room treatment is considered to be the most costly type of care, and it does not include non-emergent needs like routine physicals or cancer treatments. Additionally, the law provides no mechanism for funding, leaving patients with an enormous bills which hospital are many times unable to collect.
"It's true that an emergency room won't let you die if you show up at the door, but short of that, you can't get care for a host of medical issues," Indiana University School of Medicine Professor Aaron Carroll explained in a column for CNN. "And, while they will provide that lifesaving care to you even if you have no insurance and no money, they will send you a bill. And if you can't pay, it may cause you, and your family, financial ruin."
"That's a far cry from universal health care, and nothing to brag about," he concluded.
Watch the video below from CNN's New Day, broadcast March 8, 2017.