Congressman Gonzalez files bipartisan bill seeking to ensure Medicare beneficiaries’ healthcare access

Vicente Gonzalez

As public health emergency declarations near the end in May, U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Jodey Arrington filed a bipartisan bill seeking to guarantee continued access to healthcare resources at lower costs.

The bill would expand access for Medicare, Tricare and Medicaid beneficiaries such as permanent care at a freestanding ER, according to a news release from the public relations firm The Mach 1 Group, which represents Arrington.

The bill would ensure benefits that were provided due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to many hospitals reaching capacity during the pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service issued a waiver that allowed fully licensed emergency departments, or FECs, to function as Medicare certified hospitals.

There are over 110 FECs, many located in Texas, which provide the same level of emergency medical treatment as hospital-based emergency rooms.

The release also pointed to a study that indicates that FECs saved Medicare programs 21.8% in payments. Those payments were for lower emergency care.

“A person’s access to high quality health care should not be determined by their home address,” Gonzalez said in the release. “This bipartisan piece of legislation ensures Medicare, Tricare and Medicaid beneficiaries may access the high-quality medical treatment provided by free standing emergency centers — expanding access and lowering cost for South Texans and patients across the country.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct information about the public relations firm.