What Is ACEP Fighting for in 2023?

Every year, ACEP’s Federal Government Affairs Committee and the ACEP federal advocacy team work together to establish an expansive list of goals and priorities that guide ACEP’s work on Capitol Hill for the upcoming legislative session. When a new Congress convenes every two years, we reach out to every Member of Congress to share our top legislative priorities, which also form the basis for our in-person advocacy during the upcoming Leadership & Advocacy Conference.

For the 118th Congress, ACEP shared five key priorities with legislators:

We’ve heard from emergency physicians across the country about the emergency department (ED) boarding crisis. To illustrate the stark reality of this problem, we asked members to share examples of the life-threatening impacts of ED boarding. Your stories paint a picture of an emergency care system already near collapse, gridlocked, and overwhelmed with patients waiting to be seen. Those testimonials formed the basis of the advocacy campaign ACEP launched in December 2022, and helped inform a letter ACEP and 34 other organizations sent to President Biden in November 2022 urging the Administration to convene a summit of stakeholders from across the health care system to address this crisis.

There are many factors that contribute to ED boarding, but unprecedented and rising staffing shortages throughout the health care system have recently brought this issue to a crisis point, further spiraling the stress and burnout driving the current exodus of excellent physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. We need a health care system that can accurately track available beds and other relevant data in real time, appropriate metrics to measure ED throughput and boarding, contingency plans and “load balancing” plans for boarding/crowding scenarios, fewer regulatory or other “red tape” burdens that delay necessary care, and more options for patients to receive the care they need and deserve in their communities.

ACEP’s advocacy team knows all EDs are different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this multifactorial problem. The College is developing a broad range of potential legislative and regulatory solutions to alleviate the burdens and overall strain on EDs caused by patient boarding. ACEP strongly urges Congress to facilitate urgent collaboration by bringing together key stakeholders through roundtables, committee hearings, and legislation to provide both short- and long-term solutions to this public health crisis.

An August 2022 ACEP survey shows that ED violence is on the rise, and in addition to the physical, mental, and emotional toll of violence, contributes to growing job dissatisfaction and burnout and harms patient care. Unfortunately, public awareness of this problem remains a challenge. Videos of violent or unruly airline passengers often make their way across social media before the plane even takes off or lands, and authorities at all levels have stepped up enforcement of these crimes as a result, yet violence against emergency physicians and other health care workers remains essentially invisible to the public. But we cannot accept ED violence as “just part of the job”—violence in any other workplace is not tolerated, and it should not be tolerated in health care settings.