Mich. EMS leaders put out urgent call for state lawmakers to fund ambulance services
EMS officials testified before state legislative committees saying medics are going underpaid and the system is at risk of collapse
By Laura French
LANSING, Mich. — EMS leaders in Michigan testified before state legislative committees last week, putting out an urgent plea for lawmakers to provide more funding for ambulance services.
EMS officials and medics told the state House and Senate Health Policy Committees that many agencies cannot afford to pay their staff a living wage due to low reimbursement compared to the costs of providing ambulance transports, according to FOX 17.
Representatives of the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services testified that for transports of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, which make up about 75% of EMS calls in the state, ambulance services are only being reimbursed about 10% to 30% of the actual cost of the call. The disparity between costs and reimbursement has left many ambulance services scraping by, officials said.
"It's painful for me to share with you this reality today. The very safety net that protects your families is near collapse," Richmond Lenox EMS Chief Jeff White testified, according to FOX 17. "For us to survive, something must change and it will require what we would call a priority 1 or an emergency response."
One major problem brought up before the committees was the issue of paramedic pay. Officials testified that some agencies have made pay cuts due to a lack of funds.
"When we can look at an advertisement on a fast food billboard, and the advertisement is for more than what you make hourly - knowing what is expected of us- it's very disheartening," Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service Paramedic Denise Pope told FOX 17. "It's hard not to feel burnt out and frustrated."
The EMS officials and organizations that testified asked lawmakers to put $10 million toward increasing the reimbursement rate for Medicaid transports, which has not increased since 2000. Officials also asked for $5 million for a grant to fund paramedic tuition.
The services and organizations that testified also included Huron Valley Ambulance, Tri-Hospital EMS and the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs.