News & Updates

Save Our Ambulance Services Press Conference in Harrisburg, PA - Wednesday, June 6

Posted on June 5th, 2018 at 9:57 AM
Save Our Ambulance Services Press Conference in Harrisburg, PA - Wednesday, June 6

June 4, 2018 - Erie, PA:

On Wednesday, June 6 at 10:00am, EmergyCare’s Executive Director, Bill Hagerty will be one of several emergency medical directors to speak at a press conference held in Harrisburg, PA addressing House Bill 699, House Bill 1013 and Senate Bill 1003.

House Bill 699:
EMS providers have not received an increase in reimbursement for transporting individuals covered by Medicaid since 2004. The current rates for Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) are $200 and $120 per trip, respectively. These rates are over 200% below Medicare and commercial insurance reimbursements and do not come close to covering the real cost of transporting Medicaid patients.

Legislative efforts have been underway for many years aimed at enhancing the payment process between EMS providers and commercial insurers. These initiatives have been largely driven by the recognition that the current EMS network is severely strained financially, primarily as a result of woefully inadequate rate reimbursement for Medicaid patients. EMS providers truly are the first line of contact when it comes to the emergency medical care Pennsylvanians receive and it is critical these organizations are properly reimbursed for the life-saving services they provide.

Representative Marty Causer of Cameron, McKean and Potter Counties is proposing increasing the rates for the 2017-2018 budget by 50%, which would have a fiscal impact of approximately $16 million. In 2004, EMS Medicaid reimbursement rates were increased for the first time in 25 years. Given the time that has elapsed since the last increase and the ever growing population of Pennsylvanians coved by Medicaid, it is beyond time the General Assembly increase EMS Medicaid reimbursement rates for ALS and BLS transport.

Because, Medicaid rates have not increased since 2004 EmergyCare and Corry Ambulance Service like many other EMS organizations in PA have struggled to maintain a high standard of care for patients because of increasing costs to provide care. These costs include: updating and maintaining equipment, medications, and recruiting and retaining qualified EMS staff.

Last year alone, EmergyCare had to write off $1,221,149.04 in unpaid/uncovered Medicaid costs resulting from treating and transporting 8145 Medicaid patients, this does not include patients who were provided with wheelchair transportation.

Last year EmergyCare responded to:

5125 Medicaid Basic Life Support calls
2413 Medicaid Advanced Life Support Calls
607 Medicaid Paramedic Intercept Calls

Based on last year's volumes, increase proposed rate increase will impact our revenues per year by more than $600,000.00.

SB 1003 & HB 1013:
Under current law EMS agencies can only be reimbursed for a covered claim if they transport the patient to a hospital. Many times an ambulance and/or advanced life support crew will render care at an incident and not provide transport, usually because the patient has refused transport to the hospital.

When we get the call we must go, but currently most private insurance and Medicaid does not allow for EMS agencies to bill for the service provided. When we respond to call and treat a patient and they refuse to be transported for further examination, EMS services do not get paid for their time, fuel, equipment or services. Two bills propose to change this, SB 1003 brought to the floor by Senator Donald C. White of Butler and Westmoreland Counties and House Bill 1013 recommended by Representative Stephen Barrar of Chester and Delaware Counties.

EmergyCare has averages 1330 trips a year that result in treatment but no transport to a medical facility. This equates to a loss of around $200,000 year.

Proposed legislation that would provide more than $800,000.00 in revenue to our organization, which would equate to:

5 new ambulances (unequipped) or
20 new Wheelchair Vans or
22 Cardiac Monitors or
1.75 cent wage increase for our clinical employees

But ultimately it means better care and availability of care for the communities we serve.

About EmergyCare
EmergyCare is the largest nonprofit ambulance service in Pennsylvania providing comprehensive pre-hospital and medical transportation services for the half-million residents in its seven county service area. In addition to emergency ambulance response, services include non-emergency wheelchair and medical taxi transport, and community ambulance stand-bys. In order to fulfill the mission to provide life saving pre-hospital care and connect people and communities to the healthcare system, EmergyCare maintains a complement of over 300 employees, 72 vehicles and 12 stations to cover the 5,622 square miles of response area and the nearly 65,000 requests for service received each year.