Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi — who represents the neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Middle Village, Rego Park and Richmond Hill —has put forward a legislative package along with other state lawmakers that would provide financial support for emergency service providers as well as the volunteers who work for them if it becomes law.
The legislative package, which is being called “Rescue EMS,” was announced on Jan. 30 and includes several bills that aim to make sure EMS providers are properly compensated, while also providing financial benefits to volunteer personnel through property tax breaks and income tax credits. The purpose of the legislation is to ensure that providers remain economically viable and volunteers are rewarded.
EMS advocates and lawmakers across the state—including county leaders—hope that the passage of the bills will help strengthen EMS providers.
The package includes legislation put forward by Hevesi (A.231) that aims to increase the reimbursement rate EMS providers receive when they transport Medicaid patients and provide them care.
Required by law to transport passengers under any circumstance, Hevesi says EMS providers are not getting adequate reimbursement for administering treatment to those under the use of Medicaid, which puts a financial strain on EMS institutions.
“Right now, New York is asking EMS providers and counties to step up with resources they don’t have – to offer services they are not authorized to provide. The result of this is service gaps, an overextended workforce, and compounding healthcare inequities,” said Hevesi.
With support from the New York State Association of Counties and local lawmakers, Hevesi believes Albany will be able to come to the aid of the EMS industry.
NYSAC President Daniel P. McCoy backed Hevesi’s sentiments and also noted that there’s a desperate need to provide greater assistance to EMS providers in recognition of their essential role throughout New York.
“Counties are being asked to fill growing gaps in EMS services, but they lack the resources and authority to develop county-wide systems. We’ve heard our counties’ concerns loud and clear,” McCoy said. “Through close collaboration of our partners in the legislature and the industry, we’ve developed a package of reforms that provide counties with the flexibility they need to ensure that when one of our residents calls for help, they can count on faster, more reliable, lifesaving service.”
The “Rescue EMS” package contains legislation introduced by State Sen. Shelley Mayer (S.4020-B) and Assemblymember Steve Otis (A.3392-B) that calls for the creation of special taxing districts. These districts allow for localities to generate funds for EMS services. It also makes changes to the State Emergency Medical Services Council, classified as an essential service, and specifically recognizes EMS workers for their heroism.
Another piece of the legislative package has been put forward by State Sen. John Mannion(S.6630) and Assemblymember Didi Barrett (A.6274) that would enable volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers to claim both state income and local property tax credits.
Additionally, State Sen. Monica R. Martinez (S.7286) and Assemblymember Fred W. Thiele, Jr (A.7524) propose legislation to increase the volunteer firefighters’ and ambulance workers’ personal income tax credit from $200 to $800 for eligible individuals and from $400 to $1,600 for eligible married joint filers.
Legislation put forward by State Sen. Rachel May (S.5000) and Assemblymember Donna Lupardo (A.4077) will also ask for a change from local municipalities to remove EMS services from the real property tax cap.
The “Rescue EMS” package also contains a proposal from State Sen. Michelle Hinchey and Assemblymember Anna Kelles for the state to provide a larger range of reimbursement to EMS agencies that service Medicaid enrollees who don’t end up being transported to a hospital or medical center.
Further backing the legislative measures taken by the state lawmakers are the New York State Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association and the EMS Sustainability Alliance.
“This package of bills will take a major step in the right direction to ensure the health and safety of our communities,” said Steven Kroll of the NYS Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association.