Reinforcement of EMTALA Obligations specific to Patients who are Pregnant or are Experiencing Pregnancy Loss (Revised)
PURSUANT TO THE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION IN TEXAS V. BECERRA, NO. 5:22-CV-185-H (N.D. TEX.), HHS MAY NOT ENFORCE THE FOLLOWING INTERPRETATIONS CONTAINED IN THE JULY 11, 2022, CMS GUIDANCE (AND THE CORRESPONDING LETTER SENT THE SAME DAY BY HHS SECRETARY BECERRA): (1) HHS MAY NOT ENFORCE THE GUIDANCE AND LETTER’S INTERPRETATION THAT TEXAS ABORTION LAWS ARE PREEMPTED BY EMTALA; AND (2) HHS MAY NOT ENFORCE THE GUIDANCE AND LETTER’S INTERPRETATION OF EMTALA—BOTH AS TO WHEN AN ABORTION IS REQUIRED AND EMTALA’S EFFECT ON STATE LAWS GOVERNING ABORTION—WITHIN THE STATE OF TEXAS OR AGAINST THE MEMBERS OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PRO LIFE OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS (AAPLOG) AND THE CHRISTIAN MEDICAL AND DENTAL ASSOCIATION (CMDA). • The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) provides rights to any individual who comes to a hospital emergency department and requests examination or treatment. In particular, if such a request is made, hospitals must provide an appropriate medical screening examination to determine whether an emergency medical condition (EMC) exists or whether the person is in active labor. If an EMC is found to exist, the hospital must provide either stabilizing treatment or an appropriate transfer to another hospital that has the capabilities to provide stabilizing treatment. • Hospitals should ensure all staff who may come into contact with a patient seeking emergency care are aware of the hospital’s obligation under EMTALA. • A physician’s professional and legal duty to provide stabilizing medical treatment to a patient who presents to the emergency department and is found to have an emergency medical condition preempts any directly conflicting state law or mandate that might otherwise prohibit or prevent such treatment. • Patients, including pregnant people, are entitled to the full rights and protections afforded under this federal statute.