In an attempt to save the state money, state legislators are looking at putting call boxes in the homes of some Medicaid recipients so they can call nurses for medical advice.
Rep. Bill Herbkersman (R-Beaufort) says many people who don’t have a doctor will often go to the emergency room to get help for routine health issues.
He wants to test the in-home call system, which would provide a 24-hour nurse line for the recipient to call for medical advice or for diagnosis of their symptoms.
Rep. Todd Atwater (R-Lexington) says the new program tries to lower unnecessary ER trips, but, “If they still want to go to the emergency room, they can.”
However, critics worried the system might lead to more visits, as nurses trying to avoid a lawsuit might order people to the emergency room anyway if they’re unsure at all about the symptoms. Rep. Dwight Loftis (R-Greenville) shared their concerns on the House floor.
I’m not in the medical profession, but if I was getting a call… about something, I would be very hesitant about not sending them on, other than if it was a sore throat or something, to the emergency room.
Loftis did not oppose the bill, however.
Herbkersman explainedsome insurance companies already use this system. He hopes it will lower health care costs by ending unnecessary trips to the hospital.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield has a nurse call center right now and a lot of doctors that you go to will have a 24-hour nurse call center.
The House approved $3 million for the test program in its budget debate Monday. The program would be in five counties that would cover 3,000 Medicaid recipients who frequently use the emergency room. If this measure remains in the final budget, the Department of Health and Human Services would determine what counties get the systems.