|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
With ambulance companies in urban, suburban and rural communities across Pennsylvania struggling to keep their doors open, lawmakers and EMS personnel gathered at the state Capitol in Harrisburg recently and issued a call to action on legislation to help ensure fair reimbursement for services provided.
House Bill 699
would increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advance Life Support (ALS) to $180 and $200, respectively. The current rates are 200 percent below Medicare and commercial insurance reimbursements and haven’t been increased since 2004.
House Bill 1013/Senate Bill 1003
would require reimbursement for services rendered by an ambulance service, even if no transport takes place. Under current law, an ambulance service responding to a person in diabetic shock or overdosing may provide care that eliminates the need to transport the patient to the hospital, but that also means the ambulance personnel receive no reimbursement for their time, fuel, equipment or medication used.
The number of ambulance services operating in the Commonwealth has declined by approximately 400 over the last five years. In addition to financial challenges, ambulance companies are also struggling to recruit and retain volunteers and/or staff.
A bipartisan, bicameral commission is currently studying additional options to help ensure emergency medical services remain available to all Pennsylvanians.
From childhood, we are taught to call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. We assume someone will be there to help no matter what. These days, however, we can no longer take it for granted. It is time for the General Assembly to answer the call to save our ambulance services and move on these two pieces of legislation.
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office