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First Responders Urge Governor To Sign Ambulance Carveout Bill

Turning the standard ambulance into a specialized stroke treatment unit could help.
Turning the standard ambulance into a specialized stroke treatment unit could help.

Ambulance companies are urging Governor JB Pritzker to sign legislation that would change the way ambulance companies get paid for non-emergency calls.

Jackson County Ambulance Company Director Kenton Schafer says the system is struggling due to high denial rates from managed care organizations and long delays for payments.

Schafer says the change in payment structure would help EMS at a critical time.

"If we get our money in a timely basis, that allows us to pay our staff, that allows us to hire more staff, that allows us to have more staff on call, more staff on duty," he said. "The more staff we have on duty the quicker our response time, the quicker we can transfer a patient from hospital to hospital or hospital to their residence, wherever they need to go, which frees up a bed in a hospital."

House Bill 684 would allow EMS providers to directly bill the Department of Healthcare and Family Services for non-emergency trips instead of going through the managed care organizations.

The Governor's office has released a statement saying the legislation could harm the state's most vulnerable patients by disrupting care.

The Governor has until Saturday to sign or veto the bill.

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Steph is new to the midwest. Originally from North Carolina, Steph has previously lived in Washington DC and Northern California, where she reported on a wide variety of issues including health, politics, and women’s issues. She also has a background in social media and audience engagement.