Should rural EDs be funded like fire departments? 3 thoughts

Morgan Haefner - Print  | 

To finance staffing at small and rural emergency departments, healthcare leaders should consider a model that is similar to how fire departments are funded, according to a June 14 article in Health Affairs

Three takeaways from the article: 

1. Similar to a fire department, EDs need to be located in areas that are close to people and can promptly respond to emergencies. However, fire departments aren't expected to prop themselves up financially by charging high prices to put out fires but rather are supported by tax revenue, the authors write.

2. The ED could also be seen as a public good, according to the authors. They proposed that an all-payer global budget model or dedicated tax revenue could fund and staff small and rural EDs with emergency physicians.

3. "We see promise in a fire department model to ensure the viability of staffing small and rural EDs. Policy makers need to work with emergency physicians, hospitals, payers, and the public to address the economic challenges that threaten the emergency care safety net," the authors write.

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