I read with surprise and cynical disbelief Mike Kennedy’s comment on health care access: “People already have access. They can go to any emergency department throughout the country and have access as they need it.”

As a practicing physician possessing a legal degree, he can’t plead ignorance of the law.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), passed at the federal level in 1986, mandates that patients presenting to a hospital requesting examination or treatment be provided a medical screening examination to determine if an emergency medical condition exists. EMTALA further mandates that patients identified to have an emergency medical condition be given stabilizing treatment to the extent of the hospital’s capability.

Hospitals and their medical staff are not obligated to provide ongoing and definitive care. This mandate hardly constitutes patient “access as they need it.” But I do have a solution to offer Kennedy.

Perhaps, if he is elected to the United States Senate, he would be willing to sponsor legislation extending the EMTALA mandate to all physician practices, including his own practice in Alpine, Utah. Then he could legitimately claim patients indeed have “access as they need it.”

Arnold Fink Leman, Park City