NBC | Covid package, federal program offer lifeline and herald change for ambulances services

March 18, 2021, 3:54 PM EDT

Features Empress EMS and REMSA!

By Phil McCausland
During the height of the pandemic, a quiet financial crisis was brewing for ambulance companies.

As hospitals became overwhelmed and patients begged not to be taken to crowded emergency rooms for fear of potential infection, paramedics and emergency medical technicians began treating patients where they met them — outside homes, alongside roadways, in parking lots.

The trouble is that ambulance companies are only paid to transport people, not for treating them.

Now, an aid package in the American Rescue Plan and a new federal health care program could provide a financial lifeline for ambulance companies and herald a permanent shift in emergency medicine as a whole.

The attempt to reimburse ambulance companies began with a bill introduced by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., but the legislation was ultimately rolled into the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill. Cortez Masto voted for the plan, and Cassidy did not.

“Our first responders have gone above and beyond in caring for patients during the pandemic, and it’s just wrong that ambulance companies weren’t getting paid unless they took patients to the hospital,” Cortez Masto said.

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