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Juneau – Monday, the Alaska Legislature unanimously passed a bill to allow emergency medical services (EMS) providers to recover additional costs for transporting Medicaid patients in Alaska. House Bill 176 makes a change in state law that will help EMS providers recover supplemental reimbursements from the Medicaid program, which currently serves over 200,000 Alaskans.
“Allowing Alaska’s EMS providers to recover more of their costs will help the bottom-line of these vital life-saving organizations. This bill would have brought in $11 million a year based on last year’s numbers. However, that number is expected to go up because EMS providers are seeking a large increase in the number of ambulance calls because of the ongoing opioid crisis in Alaska. By bringing in additional federal funding, this bill allows providers to keep valuable employees and make much-needed equipment upgrades,” said HB 176 sponsor Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks). “Many ambulance services are run by local municipalities, which means these unreimbursed costs eventually get passed along to local taxpayers. Recovering funding to cover some of those costs will ultimately save local taxpayers money and enhance public safety in Alaska.”
Currently, EMS providers in Alaska are only reimbursed for about 30 percent of their costs for transporting Medicaid-eligible patients. In fiscal year 2017, the average claim submitted was $1,100. The average reimbursement from Medicaid was only $300 for each ground-based EMS transport, leaving an average of about $800 unreimbursed to EMS providers.
House Bill 176 passed the Alaska State Senate today by a unanimous vote of 20-0. The bill passed the Alaska House of Representatives in March by a vote of 30-0. HB 176 will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.