In 1986, Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. Section 1867 of the Social Security Act imposes specific obligations on Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination (MSE) when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition (EMC), including active labor, regardless of an individual's ability to pay. Hospitals are required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with EMCs. If a hospital is unable to stabilize a patient within its capability, or if the patient requests, an appropriate transfer should be implemented.
This fall, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will again solicit public comment on a proposed rule that would modify HIPAA’s privacy regulations as necessary to implement the accounting of disclosures provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH). OCR will withdraw the previous notice of proposed rule-making (76 FR 31426) that was published in 2011.