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N.Y. legislators urge governor to sign ‘Direct Pay’ bill for EMS

The “Direct Pay” bill was passed earlier this year and directs insurance companies to send payments to EMS providers instead of customers


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By Alex Gault
Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN, N.Y. — Two of the north country’s representatives in Albany are asking the governor to quickly sign a law that would allow emergency medical services to directly bill insurance companies without having to maintain formal relationships with those companies.

In news releases shared Thursday, Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, and Sen. Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, called for Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul to sign the “Direct Pay” bill passed by the Senate and Assembly earlier this year.

“I am urging Gov. Hochul to sign this bill into law to alleviate the stress on EMS workers,” Blankenbush said in a statement.

Under current state law, insurance companies are permitted to pay the costs of an ambulance ride directly to the customer unless they have a “preferred provider” relationship with the EMS company or organization. EMS groups are then directed to bill the customer directly. The customer is supposed to hand the cash from their insurance company over to the EMS organization, but that doesn’t always happen, leaving ambulance operators on the hook for the costs of the ride.

Maintaining “preferred provider” relationships or billing systems for patients can also be a challenge for EMS groups, many of which operate as part of their local fire districts or in specially formed health districts and have little to no permanent administrative staff.

This comes as EMS services across New York, and especially in upstate New York, say they are having trouble staffing and funding their operations.

With the “Direct Pay” law in place, insurance companies would not be permitted to send payments for ambulance rides to customers; instead they’ll be required to send the payments directly to the EMS provider.

“For too long we have sat idly by while EMS companies selflessly deliver on their promise to provide crucial care in our time of need and not receive the payment at the end of the day,” Walczyk said in a statement. “Since we passed this bill in the New York State Legislature, the Governor can solve this problem with a stroke of her pen, she needs to do so immediately.”

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