Report highlights statewide EMS strain
911 disruptions causes dire EMS situation in NH
According to a new report from the NH Ambulance Association, the strain on the EMS network in the state “is escalating into a full state of emergency.”
The release of the 31-page document comes on the heels of the closing earlier this month of Keene-based R.J. DiLuzio Ambulance Service, which went out of business after 71 years in operation.
“Two-thirds of respondents to the survey said that low reimbursement rates by Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance companies are a ‘major contributor’ to the EMS challenges in New Hampshire,” the report states. It adds that low wages and an aging population also contribute to the lack of providers, with ambulance services being unable to find new recruits.
The Ambulance Association, which calls itself “the voice for ambulance service providers in New Hampshire,” is a Concord-based trade group made up of EMS providers. For the study, the group commissioned the communications company Pinkston, which received 147 responses from fire chiefs, EMS chiefs, hospital EMS coordinators and skilled nursing facility managers in April.
Seventy percent of 111 responses marked “completely agree” in conjunction with the statement that “the EMS situation in New Hampshire needs to be addressed urgently.”
Out of a response sample of 127 people, 13 percent said they had already experienced, in their professional capacity, disruption to 911 services, while 43 percent said they would be “fairly likely” or “very likely” challenged to “provide adequate 911 services in the next 12 months if things continue as they are today.” In contrast, 13 percent selected “not at all likely.”
Van Etten said the solution to the EMS service strain is more funding.
“House Bill 2 has a fairly significant increase in Medicaid reimbursements for ambulance transports, and so we are hopeful that the Legislature will pass that, and the governor will sign off on it,” he said of a bill that passed the NH House last month and is currently in the Senate Finance Committee. Specifically, the bill allocates $1,944,003 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2024, and $3,888,007 for the year thereafter to increase rates paid to EMS providers, according to the report.