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Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA)

Guidance for the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA).


Issued by: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Issue Date: March 26, 2012

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).

In 1986, Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. Section 1867 of the Social Security Act imposes specific obligations on Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination (MSE) when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition (EMC), including active labor, regardless of an individual's ability to pay. Hospitals are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with EMCs. If a hospital is unable to stabilize a patient within its capability, or if the patient requests, an appropriate transfer should be implemented.

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DISCLAIMER: The contents of this database lack the force and effect of law, except as authorized by law (including Medicare Advantage Rate Announcements and Advance Notices) or as specifically incorporated into a contract. The Department may not cite, use, or rely on any guidance that is not posted on the guidance repository, except to establish historical facts.