Tester: We must make sure patients in crisis can get to the hospital

Senator voted for Medicare bill that prevents cuts to ambulance service

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester this week helped pass a bipartisan bill that strengthens ambulance services, especially in rural communities.

The bill prevents cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates for ambulance service providers by three percent in rural communities and up to 25.6 percent in highly rural areas. Failure to extend this provision would have threatened ambulance services throughout rural Montana.

“When folks call 911 they expect the ambulance to show up. Without this funding many rural ambulance providers could not afford to even start the engine,” Tester said. “This bill provides a lifeline for Montanans and ensures that patients in crisis get the care they need.”

As a result of the bill, ambulance service providers in Montana are expected to receive nearly $1.8 million in needed relief over the life of this extension, according to the American Ambulance Association.

“The extension of the Medicare ambulance add-on payments passed in this bill will mean ambulance service providers in Montana will be able to continue to provide high-quality first responder and emergency and nonemergency medical services,” said Dave Kuhn, President, Great Fall Emergency Services and Missoula Emergency Services. “We thank Senator Tester for his long-term strong support to ensure that the add-on payments are extended and access to vital ambulance services is maintained for all Montanans.”

The Medicare reimbursement bill passed the Senate by a vote of 92-8 and was signed into law by the President today.