Bill Proposes Federal Grants for Rural EMS Agencies

The Sustaining Access to Vital Emergency Medical Services Act of 2001 (S 587), introduced in Congress in March by Senators Tom Daschle (D-SD), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Craig Thomas (R-WY), would make $50 million in federal grants available for the years 2002 through 2007 to rural emergency medical services providers and rescue squads for training, hiring personnel, purchasing vehicles and equipment, and educating the public in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid techniques. EMS squads would have to match five percent of the grant.

The bill is supported by the Association of State Directors, the National Rural Health Association, and the American Ambulance Association.

The bill would also establish a prudent layperson standard for ambulance services for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, Medicare+ Choice, and Medicaid managed plans. Ambulance services have not been included within the definition of emergency services under Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) regulations; payment for this service is sometimes denied.

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