Impact of Affordable Care Act on EMS Discussed at CFSI

WASHINGTON, D.C. – While the Affordable Care Act barely mentions EMS, national officials say the impact will be felt by responders across the country.

“There are not enough primary care providers to serve the needs of a society with expanded insurance coverage,” Lori Moore-Merrill said Wednesday during a seminar held in conjunction with the Congressional Fire Services Institute's (CFSI) conference.

Merrill, general assistant to IAFF President Harold Schaitberger added that there are a number of challengers facing EMS, and urged officials to contact the president of their local hospitals.

First, and foremost, a community needs assessment should be conducted to determine what services are available.

With numerous private companies already opening, she said EMS needs to step up its marketing skills and consider partnering with hospitals. Among the entrepreneurial offices opening include on-site clinics, big-box stores and independent urgent care places.

“Places like Phoenix have billboards telling people what the ER wait times are…”

While community paramedic programs are springing up across the country, some state laws prevent medics from going into people’s homes for monitoring after surgery and other services.

“Some state laws do now allow them to practice outside 911,” she explained.

Kittias Valley (Wash.) Fire Rescue Fire Chief John Sinclair, said it’s unfortunate but federal officials  “don’t look at EMS as part of the health care system.”

He urged people to seize the opportunity or someone else will. “It’s the right thing for us to do.”

But, he cautioned that companies should make sure that there’s always staffing available to respond to 911 calls.