The American College of Surgeons (ACS) worked to ensure that two important trauma bills were reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives: (1) H.R. 648, the Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act, which would reauthorize the trauma systems planning grants and the regionalization of emergency care pilot projects and (2) H.R. 647, the Access to Life-Saving Trauma Care for All Americans Act, which would provide critically needed federal funding to help cover uncompensated costs in trauma centers, support core mission trauma services, provide emergency funding to trauma centers, and address trauma center physician shortages were both reintroduced this session of Congress. These bills were passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and then passed the full House under suspension of the rules. They await further action in the Senate.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced the Senate companion bill to the trauma systems legislation, S.763, in March 2015.
The Coalition for National Trauma Research (CNTR) advocated for $30 million in FY2016 Defense Appropriations to create and fund research topics through a coordinated, multi-institution, clinical research network to advance military relevant topics in trauma care and trauma systems. The ACS Committee on Trauma is a founding member of CNTR and fully supports the establishment of a National Trauma Clinical Research Program. $10 million was included in the House Defense Appropriations bill and there was also directive language for the Department of Defense (DoD) funding in the out years. Similar report language in the Senate bill, without specific funding, did increase DoD’s core research budget.
Liability Protections for Volunteers
The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act of 2015, H.R. 865 and S. 3101, introduced in the House by Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and David Scott (D-GA) and in the Senate by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Angus King (I-ME), would ensure disaster victims’ access to medically necessary care in a federally declared emergency. It also provides liability protections to medical professionals who volunteer in a federally declared disaster. The College supports this legislation as it moves through the legislative process. These bills have been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee where it awaits further action.
H.R. 865 ACS Support Letter
Improve Liability Protections for Trauma Providers
The ACS supports S. 884/H.R. 836, the Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act, sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA). The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) mandates that a physician provide care to stabilize a patient who presents at a hospital emergency department, regardless of their ability to pay resulting in the poor likelihood of reimbursement and high-liability risk. The Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act will help to address this growing problem by providing Public Health Service Act liability protections for physicians providing EMTALA mandated care. It has been referred to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce where it awaits further action.