One emergency medical service I’ve been seeing in the news and in my talks with firefighter/police officer friends is the condition of our ambulance services. Point blank, they are a mess and will implode financially.
Many localities are reporting these services are financially struggling because, insurance, Medicare and Medicaid barely cover the charges to transport someone. Add in my friends in fire & police who could go on for HOURS in describing how people who poor by choice or drug abusers use the ambulance service just for transportation reasons only. Yes, it happens.
Here’s an example of what is going on:
When Perry County residents call for an ambulance, it sometimes takes an hour or more for the only one based in the county to arrive, officials in the county told state legislators Wednesday.
Liberty EMS, which serves Perry County, is among a number of ambulance services in the state that are struggling with low call volumes, stagnant Medicaid reimbursement rates and a minimum wage that has been increasing under a measure passed by voters in 2018, industry representatives said at the meeting.
Ken Kelley, chief executive of El Dorado-based ProMed Ambulance, said the base rate that the state Medicaid program pays for ambulance service was last increased in 1993, when it was set at 86% of what Medicare had been paying.
Medicaid, which is funded by the state and federal government, covers low-income people, while Medicare, a federal program, covers the elderly and disabled.
Since the 1993 increase, the state Medicaid program’s rates have fallen far behind Medicare’s, Kelley said. The state’s last increase in what it pays per mile for an ambulance transport was in 2009, he said.
Meanwhile, the cost of the required equipment and medicine carried by ambulances has skyrocketed, he said.
And the minimum wage increase will increase ambulance providers’ wage costs by about 58% by the time it is fully phased in next year, Kelley said.
The voter-approved act increased the wage from $8.50 an hour to $9.25 last year and to $10 this year. Next year it will rise to $11 an hour.
Source: Arkansas Democrat Gazette