The Kentucky Hospital Association applauded the State House of Representatives’ passage of Representative Ken Fleming’s HB 777 on Monday. Advocates say HB 777 will begin the important work of reforming the regulation of Kentucky’s emergency medical services (EMS) to better serve Kentuckians.
“For years, Kentucky has suffered from an antiquated regulatory structure for EMS providers that often negatively impacts patient care and puts undue strain on existing EMS services,” said KHA President Nancy Galvagni. “HB 777 is a welcome first step towards improving EMS services and putting patients first.”
Hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities and other health care providers have voiced concerns about long wait times to transfer patients from one facility to another after calling an ambulance, averaging close to 7 hours. In many critical cases such as heart attacks, strokes or severe burns that wait time can mean the difference between good and bad patient outcomes. In other instances, requests for ambulances to transfer patients from medical facilities to psychiatric facilities were not available at all.
HB 777 will eliminate certain parts of the Certificate of Need (CON) system for EMS services, which forces new ambulance services to prove an existing need for additional EMS services before opening for business. Under the new law, cities, counties and hospitals that meet certain criteria will be allowed to establish new EMS services for the transport of patients without having to go through the CON process. Along with Hawaii, Kentucky is one of only two states that require CON for EMS services.
HB 777 will also make changes to the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services and establish a legislative task force to study the delivery of EMS services and make additional recommendations to the General Assembly.
“KHA and our members would like to thank Rep. Fleming, Chairwoman Moser and the representatives of 13 different stakeholders, including the Kentucky League of Cities, the Kentucky Ambulance Providers Association and numerous industry and patient advocacy groups for their hard work to come to this compromise solution,” said Galvagni. “While there is still work to be done, HB 777 creates a framework moving forward to ensure all the members of Kentucky’s health care community are working as a team in the best interests of our patients.