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NENA Opposes HMOs and Insurance Companies Screening Emergency 9-1-1


HMO Response Plans Impede Service Efforts of America’s 9-1-1 Systems

Columbus, Ohio (August 24, 1999)-The National Emergency NumberAssociation (NENA) expresses concern that insurance companyintervention in emergency services confuses the public andjeopardizes life-saving efforts of the nation’s emergencyservices personnel.

USA Today reported today that a Colorado-based HMO firm,Kaiser Permanente, is launching a program in which HMOparticipants are encouraged or required to dial theirinsurance company before calling 9-1-1.

“This pilot program, and the larger trend noted in theUSA Today article, is clearly against the public’sinterest. 9-1-1 was created to shorten the response timesin emergencies. 9-1-1 is widely known as the universalnumber to call in emergency situations. The American public hasinvested billions of dollars in developing the nation’s 9-1-1 infrastructure andthe educational effort that has made 9-1-1 the public assetthat it is today,” said William H. Hinkle, NENA National President.

“Requiring insurance customers to call a third partybefore calling 9-1-1 is a confusing message for citizensseeking emergency care and services. Whether life-savingemergency response service is a covered insurance expenseis one of the last things a citizen should be thinking aboutin the time of emergency,” Hinkle emphasized.

NENA believes that during an emergency, seconds literally canmean the difference between life and death, or betweenpermanent and temporary injury. NENA believes thatinsurance company involvement in this area effectivelyplaces the value of cost savings ahead of the lives and healthof the American public-a public that is currently served by a timelyresponse by the appropriate public agencies dispatched by 9-1-1 centers.

“NENA urges policy makers to seriously reconsider thiseffort to save health care dollars, and suggests thatmanaged care efforts should begin only once the emergencyresponse effort is completed,” said Hinkle.

NENA is the only organization dedicated solely to thepromotion and implementation of 9-1-1 as America’suniversal emergency number. NENA’s mission is to fosterthe development and implementation of 9-1-1 as a universalemergency number. NENA has more than 6,600 members, most of whommanage the 4,300 primary 9-1-1 centers that answer and process 9-1-1calls. As a part of its mission, NENA also develops recommended operatingstandards and protocol for 9-1-1 services. NENA’s internationalheadquarters is located in Columbus, Ohio.

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