Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) highlights the crisis facing emergency medical services in the Commonwealth at a state Capitol press conference on Tuesday
HARRISBURG – Surrounded by fellow lawmakers and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel from across the state, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) called for action Monday to address the crisis threatening the state’s entire EMS system.
“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 during a press conference at Emergency Responder Plaza on the state Capitol grounds.
To view Causer’s full remarks from the press conference, click here:
Causer outlined legislation he authored that would provide a much-needed increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates to help ensure EMS agencies have enough money to continue their life-saving mission.
EMS providers have received only two increases in reimbursement for transporting individuals covered by Medicaid in the last two decades with the last increase taking place in 2018, again based on legislation Causer introduced.
House Bill 2434 would increase 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. The bill would also offer an added premium for rural providers, similar to that offered through Medicare, to recognize the added costs those services face.
Finally, the bill would require that EMS agencies be paid for all loaded miles at a rate of $4 per mile. Currently, Medicaid reimburses $2 per loaded mile, but only after the first 20 miles. Future reimbursement rates for services and mileage would increase when Medicare rates increase based on changes to the CPI to keep pace with the increased cost of providing this service.
Causer also voiced his support for House Bill 2097, which would make permanent regulatory waivers regarding staffing on BLS ambulances. This change would ensure EMS crews have the flexibility they need to continue saving lives and meeting public safety needs.
Among emergency responders speaking at the press conference was David Basnak, president and executive director of EmergyCare, which has a station in Kane and serves portions of McKean, Elk and Warren counties. He talked about EMS in Pennsylvania being at a turning point in that the services they provide are costing more than the funding they are bringing in. He encouraged support for Causer’s bill and reiterated the commitment EMS providers across the Commonwealth share.
“EMS providers are all about taking care of people and their neighbors,” he said. “Help us to do that. Help us to build that toolkit we need for sustainable funding of emergency services.”
Causer has long been a leader in efforts to support the state’s EMS providers. He sponsored the legislation to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates in 2018. 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.