Governor Hochul, Please Choose Local Ambulance Providers and Patients Over Health Insurers
Imagine a future with fewer ambulances available for emergency calls. That will become a reality if the status quo remains. Currently, far too many providers simply are not paid for the services they render. The model is not sustainable. But Governor Kathy Hochul can change this today by signing a bill that passed unanimously and is currently sitting on her desk.
Direct Pay legislation (S.1466/A.250-A) fixes that. It will streamline the process by which ambulance service providers are reimbursed and will require health insurers to send payments directly to providers regardless of whether they are “in-network” or “out-of-network.” Currently the burden is placed on patients to ensure payment is made, while it should be on health insurers.
Ambulance service providers are mandated to respond to every call but are not getting paid for every response. Health insurers are forcing patients to be the middle man in the payment process. Patients don’t get to choose who shows up at their door in an emergency. If the ambulance service provider is “out-of-network,” the health insurer doesn’t want to pay the ambulance provider. Instead, the health insurer sends a check to the patient who is then responsible for paying the ambulance provider. Far too often those checks disappear.
Health insurers claim Direct Pay will drive up costs. But insurers are already paying out-of-network providers their usual and customary rates. This bill will not cost a dime. It will simply ensure every payment is made directly to the providers.
We urge Governor Hochul to sign this bill to ensure ambulance service providers receive the critical resources needed to continue doing their jobs safely and effectively, delivering the best possible outcomes for patients across New York State.
Jeff Call is President of the United New York Ambulance Network.
Scott Ewing, President of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs.
Henry Ehrhardt is President of New York State Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association.
Don Corkery is President of the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York.