In Advance of Rural Health Summit, Tester Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Emergency Health Care in Rural Montana

Bill Allows Emergency Responders to Utilize Prescription Drugs in Emergency Situations

(U.S. Senate)-In advance of his groundbreaking Rural Health Summit, Senator Jon Tester today introduced legislation to strengthen emergency health care and increase access to life-saving medication in rural Montana.

Tester’s bill, the Protecting Access to Emergency Medications Act, allows emergency medical first responders to carry and administer prescription medications without needing to check with a doctor before every dose. Tester’s bill will provide legal protection to first responders, who already administer prescription drugs in emergency situations.

“When emergency strikes, it is critical that folks in rural areas have access to the lifesaving treatment that they need,” Tester said. “This bill provides certainty so that first responders can still provide the same quality medical services that save lives.”

Recently, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) determined that first responders carrying and administering prescription drugs violated the Controlled Substance Act.

Tester’s bill will overturn the new regulations and provide more legal certainty for first responders, and rural patients who rely on emergency services, where often the closest physician is a long distance away.

To avoid the misuse or potential abuse of prescription drugs, Tester’s Protecting Access to Emergency Medications Act allows emergency first responders to receive, store, and utilize prescription drugs with oversight of a physician medical director.

Tester’s efforts to increase access to quality health care in rural areas also includes his PARTS Act, which will allow rural hospitals to provide outpatient treatment to Medicare patients without requiring the presence of an attending physician, and the Critical Access Hospitals Relief Act, which removes the requirement that Critical Access Hospitals discharge or transfer patients in less than 96 hours.

Next week, Tester will host his Rural Health Summit, which will bring top health care officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Montana health care providers together to address the health care challenges in rural Montana.