CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Emergency Service providers across West Virginia fear a measure backed by the Tomblin Administration which is aimed at saving money in Medicaid could threaten their ability to survive. The administration advocates a policy which would enable the private transport of non-emergency patients be handled through private ambulance brokers. Emergency Service providers say the governor’s office is targeting the wrong area.
“The problem is 75 percent of the cost of the program and the majority of the fraud is a ‘friends and family program,’” said Chris Hall with the West Virginia EMS Coalition. “Johnny driving his grandmother to the doctor and West Virginia reimbursing him for what most of us would do as the responsible thing.”
However, to combat the problem, non-emergency transport by non-profit Emergency Medical Service providers is being targeted. The non-emergency transport patients represent 30 to 40 percent of the EMS revenue.
“It would cut our non-emergency trucks and it has the potential to affect our emergency trucks in the rural area,” said Trish Watson head of the Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services.
Emergency leaders fear brokers will cut service in rural ares where profits are slim and many West Virginians in rural communities would eventually be without service or at least service would have sub-par service and long waits for help which would be further away. It’s possible the county EMS units could be the contractors for the broker, but even that won’t solve the problem.
“All brokers are for profit entities, so they could bring in their own companies or they could contract with us,” said Watson. “DHHR keeps saying they’ll contract with us, but essentially we’ll be doing the same work for less money. If we’re already underfunded, less money isn’t a positive effect.”
The group rallied at the State Capitol on Monday hoping to persuade the administration to consider exempting emergency service transports from the cost cutting measure.