Emergency Responders Critical to Public Safety, Says Barrar
HARRISBURG – Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, held two public hearings this week to examine issues involving the funding and efficiency of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system and state efforts to recruit and retain volunteer emergency responders.

“One of the greatest challenges facing Pennsylvania’s emergency services system is its ability to recruit and retain volunteers,” said Barrar. “These volunteers are critical to public health and safety – particularly in rural areas. We need to identify ways to build our volunteer force and maintain it.

“These men and women sign up to be firefighters and EMS responders, not to spend the majority of their time fundraising,” said Barrar. “If we can find more ways to fund emergency services, we will have an easier time recruiting and retaining volunteers. Today, we also learned that training requirements, although not mandated by the state, are at times burdensome. Various incentives were discussed, such as college tuition, tax credits for emergency responders, and tax credits for employers who permit employees, who serve as emergency responders, to take paid leave to attend an emergency.”

On Wednesday, the committee was briefed on the findings of a joint study on the effectiveness of Pennsylvania’s emergency medical services (EMS) system. House Resolution 315 of 2012 directed the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) and the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to explore the financial and administrative efficacy of the current system and report its findings to the General Assembly to determine if legislative changes are necessary.

“It was clear from the hearing that we need to take another look at how we fund EMS and to determine what efficiencies may be necessary,” said Barrar. “The report presented today shows a decline in the EMS portion of funding collected from traffic fines, and fees paid for participation in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for drivers charged with driving under the influence. EMS providers contend the money is not being collected in a timely manner, services are not being adequately reimbursed and some are not being reimbursed at all.

“I am sponsoring House Bill 2001, which would require managed care plans to pay all reasonable costs for medically necessary emergency care provided by EMS units, even if the patient is not transported to a hospital,” said Barrar. “Too many times EMS providers show up at an accident or other emergency and administer treatment, but are not reimbursed. No other sector of the health care industry operates in this manner.”

To see Barrar’s comments following this week’s hearings, go to: www.SteveBarrar.com.

Representative Stephen E. Barrar
160th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Donna Pinkham
SteveBarrar.com / Facebook.com/RepBarrar
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