in

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Monday…

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Monday
the appointment of a new technical advisory group (TAG) that will review
regulations affecting hospital and physician responsibilities under the
Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) to individuals who
come to the hospital seeking treatment for a medical condition. The
TAG, which was required by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement,
and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), is charged with helping CMS develop
rules that will protect individual rights while minimizing unnecessary
burdens on health care providers.

EMTALA, which was enacted by Congress in 1986, requires hospitals with
emergency rooms to provide an appropriate medical screening when a
person comes to the hospital and requests treatment for a medical
condition. If an emergency medical condition is detected, the hospital
must either stabilize the individual or transfer him or her to another
facility. The law specifically extends its protection to women who come
to the hospital in labor.

“The panel members I am announcing today are distinguished in their
fields of expertise and have practical experience with the EMTALA
regulations,” said CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. “I
look forward to receiving their input on ways we can improve EMTALA
policies to continue to protect individuals who come to the hospital
seeking treatment for an emergency condition, while relieving
unnecessary burdens on the hospitals and physicians who care for them.”

The advisory group, which will meet at least twice a year, consists of
19 members as specified in the MMA. Included among the 19 are the
Administrator of CMS, the agency that has primary responsibility for
investigating EMTALA complaints, and the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) Inspector General (OIG), which is authorized to impose
sanctions on violators. The other 17 members have been appointed by
the HHS Secretary from nominations submitted by interested groups and
individuals.

The MMA requires that four members be representatives of hospitals, at
least one of which must be a public hospital, and that seven members be
practicing physicians drawn from the fields of emergency medicine,
cardiology or cardio-thoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery,
pediatrics or a pediatric subspecialty, obstetrics-gynecology, and
psychiatry. In addition, the TAG must have two patient
representatives, two CMS regional office staff who have been involved
with EMTALA investigations, one state survey agency representative, and
one representative from a Quality Improvement Organization which is
responsible for reviewing EMTALA cases involving questions of medical
judgment. A list of the members of the EMTALA TAG is attached.

The TAG will hold its first meeting on March 30-31, 2005. More details
will be published in a notice in the March 15 Federal Register. For
more information, see

http://qa.cms.hhs.gov/providers/emtala/emtala.asp.

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.