HARRISBURG – Emergency medical services (EMS) companies across the Commonwealth would see a significant boost in reimbursement rates under legislation approved by the state House and sent to the governor’s desk today, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter).
“This is great news for all Pennsylvanians, and especially for those of us living in rural communities where EMS agencies are really struggling to keep their doors open,” Causer said. “It provides a much-needed lifeline for our EMS services and is truly a vital investment in public health and safety.”
Watch Causer’s comments during debate in the state House here
House Bill 1351
would tie the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates to federal Medicare rates, and pay whichever amount is higher.
The bill would also ensure EMS agencies are reimbursed by Medicaid for 100% of the miles they travel with a patient on board receiving care or transport, finally 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.”
Medicare reimburses at a rate of more than $8 per mile in both urban and rural areas and $13 for the first 17 miles in super rural areas.
Currently, Medicaid reimburses at a rate of $4 per mile after the first 20 miles.
A former EMT himself, Causer has long been a leader on EMS issues in the Commonwealth. He has twice helped to negotiate increased funding for Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) services, and increased the mileage rate from $2 to $4. 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 an important step toward ensuring our EMS personnel can continue their life-saving work.”
The reimbursement increase would take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
Representative Martin T. Causer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler