Committee advances bill increasing Medicaid reimbursement for some ambulance services

Committee advances bill increasing Medicaid reimbursement for some ambulance services

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey ranks last in the Northeast for Medicaid reimbursement for basic life support emergency ambulance transports. Assemblyman Kevin Rooney wants that rate increased to stay competitive regionally and align with contemporary costs.

His bill (A4505) would raise that reimbursement rate from $58 to $200 per transport, middling between Delaware’s $65.27 and Pennsylvania’s pending $325. New Jersey taxpayers will pick up about 36% of that cost, with the federal government bearing the other 64%.

“Our rate was set nearly 30 years ago. It goes without saying that costs and wages have increased significantly in that time. Add to that the post-lockdown inflation woes and worker shortages, and we are asking medical transportation companies and volunteer organizations to run on fumes,” Rooney (R-Bergen) said. “We must give these providers the financial support they need so they can serve their communities without interruption. Lives literally depend upon it.”

Basic life support transports – municipal fire departments, hospital networks, and private companies comprising paid and volunteer staff – are available to 2.1 million Medicaid patients in the state. Last year, Medicaid spent $46.1 million on more than 295,000 emergency ambulance trips for nearly 139,000 beneficiaries. Medicaid is required to cover emergency ambulance services, although professional organizations state reimbursement is up to eight times less than the actual costs per transport.

“Medicaid payments as they stand are inadequate, and regions with higher program enrollments are less likely to carry non-mandatory medications or equipment because of costs,” Rooney added. “Let’s not find ourselves in a position of calling for help, and no one answers, because the funds weren’t there.”

The Assembly Human Services Committee released Rooney’s bill Thursday.