News Releases

Senator Murray Provides $500,000 to Help the Uninsured Avoid Excessive Medical Bills in Olympia Area

Jun 21 2007

Funding would go toward CHOICE Regional Network's Emergency Department Care Coordination Program

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included $500,000 for a program run by the CHOICE Regional Network that helps reduce inappropriate use of hospital emergency departments by the uninsured and helps them avoid excessive and unnecessary medical bills. The program, run by CHOICE, is called the Emergency Department Care Coordination Program. Senator Murray included the funding in the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations bill – the annual spending bill that funds healthcare priorities. Senator Murray is a senior member of the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee. 

"This funding will help the uninsured in the Olympia area avoid unnecessary, expensive medical bills," said Senator Murray.  "It will also help increase overall access to hospital emergency rooms and will affect the affordability of medical care for the general public.  I am so pleased to help CHOICE assist working families in the Olympia area get the care they need." 

Since its inception in 2003, CHOICE’s Emergency Department Care Coordination Program (EDCCP) has met two program goals: reducing inappropriate use of hospital emergency departments and improving health among the patients who use the program. 

In a pre-post intervention test sample, the program reduced emergency department visits by 50% and charges by 40%.  

The funds that Senator Murray provided will help fund the CHOICE program at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Thurston County and expand it to hospitals in Grays Harbor, Mason and Lewis Counties.  

The CHOICE Regional Network, a non-profit consortium is dedicated to improving the health of 93,000 poor and working-poor Washington state residents. Senator Murray has long supported in its efforts to continue and expand outreach and coordination efforts for the uninsured. In 2004, Senator Murray helped to secure $175,000 in grant funding under the Health Community Access Program (CAP) for the CHOICE Regional Network. 

"Senator Murray is a health access hero for Washington State," said Kristen West, Executive Director of CHOICE Regional Health Network. "Her heroic leadership serves seniors, children, veterans and the uninsured. With this federal appropriation to CHOICE Regional Health Network, we will be able to implement approaches that reduce inappropriate use of the Emergency Department which will save money that can be used to pay for health care for the uninsured. The program we will be able to replicate as a result of this funding will save tax payers dollars, improve the quality of care for patients and stabilize a fragile network of safety-net providers. It’s an excellent example of stewardship and leverage of government funds."