Resource: The Statute Whose Name We Dare Not Speak: EMTALA and the Affordable Care Act

By: David W. Koeninger

January 1, 2013

J. Gender Race & Just.

This Article locates the Obama Administration's health care reform efforts-namely the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-within an overarching narrative about the consequences, some of them unintended, of health care statutes. The particular statutes that this Article will address-the Hill-Burton Act, the Medicaid and Medicare statutes, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), and the Affordable Care Act are all parts of the story of the development of our modem health care system, and all may be considered attempts to reduce or eliminate health disparities in the United States. These statutes are rooted in part within the civil rights movement, however, they extend well beyond it, telling a story about the twin difficulties of forging a consensus as to how we will take care of our sick and disabled fellow citizens and further, how to act on that consensus. Ultimately, they help to explain why health care reform has become unavoidable and raise the question of whether the incremental reforms that have characterized our system can advance the fight to reduce health disparities.