– Legislation to improve the affordability and accessibility of emergency medical services training in rural areas has been approved by both the House and Senate and now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint), prime sponsor of the measure.
“With the number of volunteer first responders rapidly declining in rural communities across the state, one of the most important things we can do to help is make sure people who want to serve can afford the necessary training to do so,” Causer said. “EMT class costs are approaching $1,000, which is a lot to ask of someone who wants to volunteer his or her time to serve their community.”
House Bill 1838
would make training more affordable by increasing funding for the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund (EMSOF) and requiring at least 30% of the funding to be used to provide training to underserved rural areas. In addition, the bill would require no less than 10% of the funds to be provided directly to EMS providers to help with purchasing medical equipment for their ambulances.
EMSOF is currently funded by a $10 fee on moving violations and a $25 fee for driving under the influence incidents. Causer’s bill would increase those fees to $20 and $50, respectively. It would be the first increase in the fees in more than three decades.
Finally, the bill would require the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a review of the last five years of court records to ensure EMSOF money is being collected and deposited properly, and to provide recommendations if needed to ensure the money is being used as intended.
The bill is part of the General Assembly’s ongoing effort to support life-saving emergency medical services organizations across the state by addressing staffing and funding needs. Causer previously spearheaded the successful effort to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for Advanced Life Support and Basic Life Support ambulance calls. He also was a vocal supporter of laws to require insurance companies to reimburse for treatment provided, even when no transport takes place; allow direct pay from insurance companies to EMS providers; and offer staffing waivers to ambulance companies in rural areas so they may continue to serve their communities.
Representative Martin T. Causer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives