The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), enacted in 1986, is a federal law that requires anyone coming to an emergency department to be stabilized and treated, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, but since its enactment in 1986 has remained an unfunded mandate.
Here is an explanation of EMTALA law. The original statute is included in this posting as well as how it pertains to behavioral health. It is important for everyone to understand the current laws that assist people in getting the help they need regardless of the ability to pay.
Public and private hospitals alike are prohibited by law from denying a patient care in an emergency. The Emergency Medical and Treatment Labor Act (EMTLA) passed by Congress in 1986 explicitly forbids the denial of care to indigent or uninsured patients based on a lack of ability to pay.