Legislative Memo



S.3341 / A.1644



SPARCS Emergency Room Data



March 19, 2001


The Business Council supports S. 3341 / A. 1644, legislation which amends the Public Health Law and the State Finance Law to provide Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) information on hospital emergency room visits. For the past decade, The Business Council has sought to provide greater health care information to employers and employees across the state. The Business Council has been a leading voice calling for more information for consumers so they can better compare hospitals. We have called for more information to compare physicians and more data to compare health maintenance organizations. Due to this work, and the work of various health advocacy groups, New York has made tremendous steps forward. In this age of information technology, more can be done. Easier access to essential data is critical if consumers are to make informed decisions about their health-care and if we are to see improvements in the quality of care that is provided. The Patient Health Information and Quality Improvement Act of 2000 is a landmark piece of legislation that will empower employers and employees to better choose between HMO's, hospitals and physicians. We are pleased that hospital report cards, envisioned in the Health Care Reform Act of 1996, will get back on track. There remains at least one glaring omission – the lack of any meaningful data on what takes place at the emergency room. It seems obvious that the lack of comparative information on emergency room visits can lead to disorganization and unintended medical consequences. Making this data a regular part of the SPARCS system is a common sense approach to improving health outcomes for the population. Too often the uninsured need to make use of the emergency room. Too little is still known about the health outcomes of those populations and whether different intervention policies could provide better and more cost-effective health-care.

One of The Business Council's health goals is to improve the public health of New York's citizens. That is why The Business Council was a founding member of The New York State Public Health Partnership and why we have supported hospital report cards and physician profiles. That is why today, we call on the legislature to extend the SPARCS system to emergency room visits.