KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Freestanding ERs, Urgent Care Centers, Frequent Flyers Change Marketplace

News outlets offer various reports on how emergency and urgent care facilities are affecting how America delivers health care.

Kaiser Health News: 'Wildfire' Growth Of Freestanding ERs Raises Concerns About Cost
In this fast-growing Houston suburb, six ERs are just a short drive away. She chose Texas Emergency Care Center, a facility that feels like a Western lodge with its earth-toned brick walls, leather chairs and coffee bar. The eight-bed ER that opened last year has almost everything -- except, that is, an attached hospital (Galewitz, 6/15).

Medscape: Urgent Care Centers Divert Patients From PCPs, EDs Alike
Urgent care centers (UCCs) save money by treating patients who otherwise may land in a more costly hospital emergency department (ED), but they also boost health care spending by diverting patients from primary care practices (PCPs), according to a new study published online today by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). Given these findings, UCC executives, ED directors, and health plan network managers interviewed in the study are uncertain about the overall effect of UCCs on cost, write lead author Tracy Yee, PhD, and coauthors. On a more positive note, these health care industry figures generally perceive UCCs as improving access to some services for privately insured patients "without significantly disrupting continuity of care," according to the study, which focused on 6 metropolitan areas (Lowes, 7/12).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: 7 States, Governors Team To Tackle Hospital 'Frequent Flyers'; Now on Seven states and the National Governors Association are teaming up to find ways to save money and better coordinate the care of Medicaid and uninsured patients who frequently use hospital emergency rooms and other costly health services (Miller, 7/12).

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