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Clark County forces new emergency rooms to accept Medicaid, Medicare

Posted at 8:46 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 23:51:57-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Getting hit with a massive medical bill could unbalance just about anyone's check book, and many like Cheryl Rego said Thursday that one uninsured trip to the emergency room could ruin her financially.

"It's scary," she said. "I work week to week. I cannot deal with a medical bill and take food, rent, everything else into perspective."

The Clark County Commission tried to ease many of those fears this week by passing an ordinance requiring any new medical facility that advertises emergency care to accept Medicaid and Medicare as their patient's insurance and be certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"This is excellent," Rego said.

Existing medical facilities, like Elite Medical Center, do not have to follow the new rules.

CEO Patty Holden said she's happy that her inpatient hospital and emergency room facility are exempt so she's not forced to deal with government red tape and the paperwork involved in billing Medicare and Medicaid.

She did say that she doesn't like slapping patients with big bills either.

"All of those patients, we go ahead and treat them of course, for free," Holden said. "We don't bill the patient, and we don't bill the government payers."

Holden said at smaller facilities, such as Elite Medical Center, it's easier to go without the bureaucratic headache that all new emergency centers, from stand-alone ER's to level one trauma centers, will have to do deal with June 1 when the ordinance goes into effect.