Barrar and Committee Consider Implications for Payments for Ambulance Services
– This week the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, led by chairman Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), held a hearing on his proposed legislation that would provide payment for ambulance services that treat but do not transport a patient.
“As the viability of our ambulance services are threatened by chronic financial challenges, it is imperative that they be fairly paid for their costs. Otherwise, we face the impending reality that more and more ambulance services will close, affecting the safety of Pennsylvanians as ambulances will be forced to spend greater periods of time getting to citizens who are experiencing health crises,” Barrar said.
Neither Medicare, Medicaid nor private insurance companies pay that full cost incurred by ambulance companies when a patient is not transported to the hospital – resulting in the substantial loss of funding for a struggling, but necessary, industry. In fact, Medicare and Medicaid pay just 30 percent of the cost.
The problem is exacerbated by Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis. After patients receive a life-saving dose of Narcan to counteract an overdose, few are transported to the hospital. Additionally, the cost of the drug has skyrocketed and more must be administered per occurrence because the heroin and other drugs often abused frequently contain fentanyl.
“Each month, I hear about at least one emergency medical service provider that was forced to close. This is a problem that will have consequences for us all if it is not addressed,” Barrar said. “I plan to move my bill in the near future, possibly as early as next week.”
The committee also held a joint informational meeting with the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee this week to hear a presentation from the Veterans Service Organizations.
Christine Frederick, VFW veterans service officer, explained that more legislators are requesting outreach services for the benefit of veterans living in their districts, underlining the importance of skilled service officers. She explained that more funding is necessary to prevent employee turnover, particularly since officers work with an experienced officer for the first five years of their training. Too often, noncompetitive salaries force service officers to resign in favor of another job, resulting in the loss of resources that were invested in training the fresh officers.
Frederick implored committee members to include additional funding in the 2017-18 budget despite the Commonwealth’s financial challenges.
To view footage of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee’s meetings, click here
Representative Stephen E. Barrar
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans