It’s a thorny problem, the current ER laws. An ER has to provide a screening exam, and at that point, if the problem isn’t emergent, they are legally allowed to discharge the patient. However, the optics and potential liability if something goes wrong is high enough that most (read: all) hospital systems go ahead and treat the patients for their non-emergent issue at that time.
That sounds ok, all in all, cause you don’t want to miss an emergency. Unfortunately, a whole lot of people go to the ED for common primary care reasons, and they are seen, then undergo expensive testing to rule out emergencies, and then get their common issue treated. They then often don’t pay for that very expensive (likely 10-100 times the cost of the same evaluation in a PCP office) service, leading the hospital to file it to charity. People know that they will get treated at the ED, and will not have to pay for that treatment, so they go there for all of their care.
So the question is where do you draw the line? It’s not easy to figure out where, but all attempts to draw it anywhere but getting full treatment in the ED have led to significant lawsuits with big payouts and lots of gun shy hospital systems. Thorny indeed, but there is an issue there, not necessarily just evil politicians wanting people to die already.