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New bill could be a life-saver for local EMS agencies struggling financially

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What could be a life-saver for EMS agencies struggling with low Medicaid reimbursement rates is headed to the PA Senate for a vote. Several agencies in Central PA are hurting financially because they’re getting little to no money back for a large number of their calls.

Medicaid reimbursement rates haven’t been increased since 2004.

The sponsor of the bill, Representative Martin Causer, told CBS 21 “House bill 699 is really a critical lifeline for our EMS agencies across the commonwealth.”

Right now every time an ambulance transports a Medicaid patient for basic life support services they get $120 back and for advanced life support services it’s $200. Causer says that’s 200% below reimbursements provided by Medicare and commercial insurance.

We spoke to Cornerstone Adminisystems who does the billing for more than 150 EMS agencies and they say they see first hand how much these agencies aren’t getting back.

Client Services Supervisor Daniel Morris told CBS 21, “These are certified medical providers, physicians, think of them like that, they provide the medical care via mobile transport. There are certificates involved in this, extensive training, liability insurance, gas, cost to operate vehicle, state licensure… A lot goes into this and then they get paid pennies on the dollar.”

This is why Causer sponsored the bill. HB 699 passed the house unanimously and now heads to the senate. If it passes it raises the basic rate to $180 and advanced to $300.

“There are more and more people on Medicaid needing services so I think this can help our EMS services a great deal,” said Causer.

Morris says if the bill doesn’t pass and the rates don’t go up, the future of these providers is uncertain.

“It’s going to put them in the red of course. If it’s costing you more to provide a service than you're getting in reimbursement, you can't survive.”

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