Understanding the Ground Emergency Medical Transportation Program

What you need to know about the GEMT and how it impacts EMS reimbursement


By Allison G. S. Knox, Faculty Member at American Military University

Understanding any American emergency medical services policy often means that you need to navigate a complicated web of policies, laws and issues, as well as how state, local and federal policies impact that web. When it comes to funding from the federal government, there are certain policies that outline specifically what an EMS organization is qualified to receive, which makes that policy even more complex in multiple ways.

The Ground Emergency Medical Transportation (GEMT) program is one of these policies. It offers reimbursements from Medicaid for private and public EMS agencies. However, this program further complicates the overall financial picture of many EMS agencies throughout the United States, because all ambulance agencies aren’t eligible for the reimbursement.

When it comes to funding from the federal government, there are certain policies that outline specifically what an EMS organization is qualified to receive. (Photo/Justin Schorr)
When it comes to funding from the federal government, there are certain policies that outline specifically what an EMS organization is qualified to receive. (Photo/Justin Schorr)

Potential issues with the Ground Emergency Medical Transportation Program

While the program is meant to help with reimbursements for certain patients, there is a chance that some EMS agencies may incur costs that are larger than the Medicaid reimbursement.

Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to EMS agencies, as there are numerous factors that impact the overall budget and financial state of EMS agencies. The Ground Emergency Medical Transportation program certainly assists EMS agencies. But, like many other policy initiatives, the GEMT program complicate some of the funding efforts for some EMS agencies.

EMS financial constraints

Financial problems are not a new thing for emergency medical services. Some EMS agencies have had to close because they have not been able to cover their expenses.

Other agencies are completely comprised of volunteers because that type of staffing cuts down the costs of running an ambulance agency. Budgets have often been tight for EMS agencies, and the GEMT program both helps and hinders those financial constraints.

Understanding EMS policy means understanding the various issues that impact it. The GEMT program is another unique piece of the puzzle that greatly impacts the complicated web of EMS policy, finances and budgetary constraints.

About the Author

Allison G.S. Knox is an emergency medical technician and a political scientist, focusing on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. She is a faculty member at American Military University and has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, Allison worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four Master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History. She also has a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

She is trained in water safety instruction and large animal emergency rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and also serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. Knox is a contributor to EDM Digest and In Public Safety, American Military University sponsored websites. To contact the author, please email IPSauthor@apus.edu.

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