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Ambulance services say [NY] governor's Medicaid cut plan could cause 'collapse of the ambulance industry'

1 Apr 2019 9:26 AM | AIMHI Admin (Administrator)

WHEC Source Article | Comments Courtesy of Matt Zavadsky

Chief Allen does a great job on camera explaining a very complex issue – suggest viewing the 90 second video at the link below…

Can’t wait to see what the station’s next investigative report uncovers regarding the direct payments to consumers that are not turned over to the provider.

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Ambulance services say governor's Medicaid cut plan could cause 'collapse of the ambulance industry'

March 29, 2019 06:59 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Here's a tough pill to swallow for people in our community who are older and low income.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to stop paying for your ride in an ambulance and the people who operate the ambulances in our area gave News10NBC a dire warning about this. 

They say this cut is going to put some ambulance services out of business. They say they're strapped for cash as it is. 

First, let's explain what's happening. 

If an ambulance crew got called to help a patient who was older and low income, the federal and state government pay for it. Medicare covers 80 percent. Medicaid pays 20 percent. 

In his budget proposal, Cuomo wants to cut that 20 percent from Medicaid. 

"So for our agency alone, it's $65,000 a year," Chief Reg Allen said. 

Allen is the chief of CHS Mobile Integrated Healthcare. That's the ambulance for Henrietta, Chili, Scottsville and three other towns. 

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "But if somebody is old and poor, you're still going to go pick them up?" 

Reg Allen, CHS Mobile Integrated Healthcare: "Oh yeah." 

Brean: "It's you that is not going to get the money?"

Allen: "Right. It's a revenue loss so like any other business you have to figure out how to absorb lost revenue."

Allen says he would have to cut a full-time and part-time EMT. He says smaller, rural ambulance services might have to cut everything. 

"Now, they've lost revenue. Now, they go out of business," Allen said. "Now, there's nobody to cover them."

It's not just Chief Allen saying this.

The New York American College of Emergency Physicians says the Medicaid cut "puts patient health and safety at risk."

The United New York Ambulance Network warned it would cause the "collapse of the ambulance industry."

But one of the governor's policies is to control spending. 

Here's what he's facing. 

In 2017, one out of every three New Yorkers was eligible for Medicaid. That year, New York state spent $40 billion on Medicaid payments. That's more than Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, and Ohio combined. 

So, the governor wants this Medicaid cut. The state legislature does not.

Here is Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie at a rally last month. 

Speaker Carl Heastie: "It is not lost on the members how important this is. We are hearing from the healthcare community throughout the entire state and it will not be lost to us. This is one of our highest priorities to restore the cuts that the governor has proposed in his 30-day amendments."

News10NBC asked the governor's office to explain why it wants to stop paying ambulances for helping older, low-income patients. 

Here is the statement from the governor's budget director: 

"The state has been standardizing payment practices across the health care industry including updates to Medicaid billing methodologies. In situations where Medicare pays an appropriate amount, Medicaid should not pay more than it ordinarily would for any other patient. These changes are not anticipated to have any adverse impacts on availability of transport services. The Executive Budget also includes an increase in ambulance reimbursement rates and several new EMS workforce development efforts are underway." 
    
Brean: "Why is this happening?"

Allen: "I don't know. It's a cost-cutting measure and you would think they wouldn't try to cut costs for people that are typically the most in need. You're talking about low-income elderly."

The state budget deadline is Sunday. 

This isn't the only money problem for ambulances.

News10NBC is investigating why insurance companies send some ambulance reimbursement money to patients who end up pocketing the money.

Watch for that investigation next week. 


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