MAA worked with Rep. Michel Lajoie of Lewiston to craft LD 1465, An Act To Require the State To Adequately Pay for Emergency Medical Services. This legislation will increase MaineCare reimbursement for ambulance services to the Medicare allowable rate.
The cost of preparedness for Maine EMS providers is higher than national averages.
Maine Law requires EMS providers to respond to emergency calls and transport patients without regard for their ability to pay. As a rural State, Maine EMS providers have very long distances to travel for these responses and transport to hospitals, especially when transporting patients to the tertiary care hospitals in Bangor, Lewiston and Portland.
The GAO has studied EMS costs around the nation, and found that rural EMS providers have higher costs. This is especially true for Maine, where the small population is spread over a large area.
Maine EMS providers are struggling to maintain the emergency network in Maine.
EMS services must maintain equipment and trained personnel to meet state licensing standards. Maine law also requires the EMS network to be able to respond to emergency calls within 20 minutes. With limited resources, EMS services around the State are cutting costs that affect preparedness. An example of these cuts are deferred maintenance and borrowing to maintain vehicles.
Unlike other healthcare services, consolidation of EMS services to reduce costs is not an option for EMS providers because the same equipment and personnel infrastructure must be located around the state in order to meet the 20 minute response time requirement.
Mainecare funding is not sufficient to pay for EMS costs for its members.
Maine EMS providers are reimbursed for only about 50% of the costs to provide services to MaineCare members. This rate is 35% below the Medicare rate, which is also below the cost of service. With rising costs of personnel and equipment, many services are struggling financially. Private, volunteer services are at risk and municipalities are being pressured to raise property taxes to make up for the lack of state funding.
The Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on LD 1465 on Wednesday, January 13, 2016. Tim Beals spoke on behalf of the Association. You can read his testimony by clicking here.
The Committee also held a work session on January 20th and will hold a second one on February 3rd at 10:30 AM in Room 209 of the Cross Office Building. For anyone who wishes to listen in to this work session, visit the Health and Human Services Committee website and click on the “Start” button.
The Maine Municipal Association wrote an interesting article on LD 1465 in their Legislative Bulletin from January 15, 2016, summarizing the issue and the public hearing. Click on the link below to read the article: