HARRISBURG – With many emergency medical services (EMS) agencies struggling to make ends meet, the General Assembly has approved a bill to boost mileage reimbursements for patient transport, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter).
House Bill 479
would ensure EMS agencies are reimbursed by Medicaid for 100% of the miles they travel with a patient on board receiving care or transport by removing the current exemption for the first 20 miles traveled.
“It really makes no sense to require an ambulance to drive 20 miles before seeing a dime of reimbursement for mileage,” Causer said. “The cost of fuel and the cost of care start as soon as that ambulance pulls away and heads to the hospital. We have a responsibility to properly pay for the services provided.”
Under the bill, EMS agencies would continue to be paid $4 per mile. Causer led the effort last year to increase the mileage reimbursement rate from $2 to $4.
“My proposal also sought to remove the exemption for the first 20 miles, so I’m pleased to see that effort advancing in the House this week,” he said.
A former EMT himself, Causer has long been a leader on EMS issues in the Commonwealth. As part of last year’s budget negotiations, he secured an increase in reimbursement rates for both Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) services to $400 and $325 per trip, respectively. The change would represent a reimbursement of approximately 80% of the current base Medicare rate in Pennsylvania, plus a reflection of the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since 2018.
It was only the second increase in the last two decades, with the last increase taking place in 2018, again based on legislation Causer introduced.
He has also supported laws to reimburse for treatment, even when transport does not take place, and for direct payment by insurance companies to ambulance service providers.
“If we expect our emergency medical services providers to respond when we call 9-1-1, we need to do our part to support them,” Causer said. “This is another small step forward, but there is more work to do to keep our EMS agencies solvent.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Martin T. Causer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler