Advocacy alert: Let’s pass a dedicated $500M EMS funding bill
Contact your representatives about the proposed EMS Staffing and Support Act
This week, the EMS Staffing and Support Act (S. 3910) was proposed in the U.S. Senate, which clearly outlines the crisis EMS systems face and recognizes the support providers need to sustain themselves.
This legislation would establish a Federal funding mechanism of $500 million through the Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA). It would create an exclusive funding mechanism to support EMS personnel, recruitment and retention, training, equipment, vehicles, supplies, the wellbeing of providers, and to improve EMS station facilities.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who sponsored the bill, said, “Let’s be clear: in many communities, these EMS departments are the difference between life and death, and we must do all we can to ensure that they are fully staffed, equipped, and able to respond to emergencies in a timely manner.”
This bill also requires HHS to issue two reports, one on the disparities and inequities of reimbursement for EMS, from both Federal and private sources. The second report would include an action plan to support rural and nonaffiliated EMS departments (non-fire-department-based services) with support of additional grant funding.
In a summary report of the bill, Sanders’ office points out EMS systems are underfunded, particularly in rural areas, which are reliant on Medicare or Medicaid funding that only reimburses 75% of the cost of care and does not provide any funding if a patient is not transported to the hospital, according to a 2012 GOA report on ambulance providers and the increasing cost of utilization and care.
Treatment in lieu of transport
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The EMS Staffing and Support Act follows legislation introduced last month by Senator Sanders to address similar issues in the fire services by increasing the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, from $360M annually to tripling that amount through 2028, investing $12 billion over five years in these two programs through the Firefighter Staffing and Support Act (S.3592)
Call to action: How you can help
Contact Congress. You’ll be directed to find your Senator’s information, along with your local Congressional representative. While there is not yet a companion bill in the House of Representatives, you can let your Congressmember know their support will be needed.
In order for this bill to move out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, it will require support from key members, and a companion bill in the House. If you live in a state represented by Senators sitting on this committee, your outreach will be even more important to move this bill to the floor for a vote.