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Emergency Room Visits Up Across The State

Experts are divided on what effect a state Medicaid expansion would have on the number of ER visits.

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Photo: WBEZ

The uninsured often seek treatment in emergency rooms.

The number of emergency room visits in Indiana increased 2.7 percent from 2011 – 2012.

At Columbus Regional Hospital, the number of ER visits has doubled over the past four decades.

Columbus Regional Hospital emergency department medical director Kevin Terrell says the hospital is expanding the emergency department to increase space for future patients.

“In the new area we will have 30 patient beds,” Terrell says. “We will have an area that can also come to the flow of patients who are waiting there test results, and observation area for patients who needs to be observed for a period of time.”

Indiana Hospital Association President Doug Leonard says emergency room visits increase when people don’t have insurance or have lost their insurance.

Leonard says Medicaid expansion in Indiana would help decrease emergency room visits.

“If we have more people that are insured, they are more likely to get care in a physician’s office,” Leonard says.

But a new study of the Oregon Medicaid expansion program found expanding Medicaid increases emergency room visits.

The study says low-income adults covered by government health insurance visited hospital emergency rooms 40 percent  more often than other adults.

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