Medicare transport pay cuts threaten dialysis patients’ care

Transportation services are concerned that dialysis patients will lose access to care after Medicare announced they will reduce reimbursement for non-emergencies


By EMS1 Staff

WASHINGTON — Medical transport agencies are concerned that dialysis patients could lose access to care after it was announced that Medicare will decrease reimbursement for non-emergency ambulance transports.

ModernHealthcare.com reported that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services began advising Medicare contractors to reduce reimbursement for non-emergency dialysis patients by 13 percent beginning Oct. 1.

The cut was called for by Congress in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and it means that reimbursement for the transports will be 23 percent less than five years ago.

 

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"This is going to be a large impact on many services and the cost will have to be passed on somehow," West Tennessee Healthcare head Joyce Noles said. 

Noles said she expects West Tennessee Healthcare to lose at least $65 per transport after the cuts are made.

She added that the agency is considering switching to stretcher vans for transports, which would mean that non-medical personnel would be accompanying patients during the ride.

Josh Watts, CEO of Medtrust, a South Carolina ambulance provider, said that as revenue has dropped for dialysis transports, they have virtually stopped offering the service.

He added that rural areas will suffer greatly and dialysis patients in those areas will be left without options.

"In these areas, this will absolutely devastate the access to care transportation for at-risk patients," Watts said.

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