Medline joins EMS professionals to advocate for key issues impacting industry
Amplifying voice of paramedics and emergency medical technicians at 11th annual EMS On The Hill Day
In mid-April, 23 Medline employees participated in conversations with members of Congress to advocate for key issues impacting EMS operations, including funding for training and equipment assistance, re-categorization of broad “firefighter” occupation to include Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for appropriate funding allocation, and supporting legislation that extends critical EMS reimbursement relief for five additional years.
With the event held virtually due to the pandemic, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, were represented in this year’s meeting, resulting in 200-plus meetings with Congress. Medline actively involved employees to represent nearly 20 states alongside EMS providers.
“First responders stepped into elevated roles over the past year and are receiving much deserved national recognition for their ability to treat high acuity conditions in the patient’s home. To maintain high quality care, we have to find new ways to eliminate financial and operational burden that EMS organizations continue to face,” said Rhonda Baliff, Medline EMS manager. “EMS Day on the Hill is an opportunity for Medline to leverage its national footprint of employees and advocate for issues that will help EMS organizations run better.”
Allowing EMS providers to treat in place
Treatment in Place (TIP) or Treatment in lieu of Transport (TILT) with Medicare reimbursement was a hot topic, and one many experts want to see on a permanent basis beyond the current public health emergency.
CDC data shows that emergency room visits at the beginning of the pandemic were 42% lower than the same time the previous year. Call volumes to EMS shifted to treatment in place as patients preferred to stay at home.
“While treatment in place increased during the pandemic, this is something EMS has been doing on a limited scale for years,” said Matt Zavadsky, immediate past president and board of directors of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT).
A classic scenario being a diabetic patient suffering from hypoglycemia. An EMS team arrives on site, determines that the patient’s blood sugar level is low and then treats it to stabilize the patient.
“We could take them to the ER to see a doctor who is most likely unfamiliar with the patient’s background or suggest the patient has a follow up appointment with their endocrinologist. Unfortunately, EMS does not get reimbursed if the patient is not transported to the hospital,” Zavadsky added.
To help preserve hospital capacity during the pandemic, EMS providers were reimbursed for treating in lieu of transport. The success of this throughout the pandemic led to President Biden renewing the CMS waiver authority during public health emergencies as part of the American Rescue Act. That’s when the industry called on Congress to make Treatment in Lieu of Transport permanent. Experts say this will help give paramedics more autonomy in treatment and transport decisions, help decrease healthcare costs, and ultimately provide the patient with the best care. With tight budget controls constantly affecting EMS providers, permanent reimbursement will be essential for combatting out of pocket costs for essentials like medical supplies and labor costs.
More information on Treatment in Place during the pandemic can be found in a recent EMS1.com article.
Learn more about how Medline is supporting EMS providers at www.medline.com/ems.