At the urging of the American Ambulance Association (AAA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a "Fact Sheet on Public Assistance to Ambulance Services" Jan. 2 and distributed it to FEMA regional administrators. The document clarifies that all ambulances are eligible for reimbursement under the FEMA "Public Assistance Program" for providing services during federally declared disasters and emergencies. It also identifies the "expenses related to ambulance activities" that are eligible for such reimbursement.
"The issuance of this FEMA fact sheet should now address the ... problem that some AAA members, in particular private, for-profit [services], face in getting reimbursed when responding to a federally declared disaster," Tristan North, AAA Senior vice president for government affairs, said in an AAA Member Advisory.
Carlos J. Castillo, assistant administrator, FEMA Disaster Assistance Directorate, noted in the fact sheet that state, local and tribal governments and private nonprofit organizations or institutions that provide ambulance service are eligible to apply to FEMA directly for reimbursement.
Although he wrote that "private, for-profit ambulance providers arenoteligible fordirectreimbursement from FEMA," Castillo added that a state, local or tribal government that contracts with a private ambulance provider -- including via mutual aid or emergency memoranda of understanding --maysubmit a claim for reimbursement to FEMA on behalf of that private ambulance service.
The fact sheet also details many ambulance service costs eligible for FEMA reimbursement, including regular and overtime pay for employees, extra hires and volunteer EMTs. It also states that the applicant "may not seek reimbursement from FEMA for any ambulance service costs that are covered by private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or a pre-existing private payment agreement." States must determine whether "a prohibited duplication of benefits has occurred" and return any such funds to FEMA.
"[Private ambulance services] represent the majority of the nation_s medical surge capacity and fully participate in mitigation, response to and recovery from disasters," said Jim Buell, AAA director of special projects. "This fact sheet is one step toward creating parity with public entities [that] are at present fully reimbursed for their services during a disaster."
North advises AAA members who run into reimbursement problems with local officials or FEMA field representatives to "present them with a copy of this fact sheet."
Download the FEMA Fact Sheet at„http://www.the- aaa.org/capitol_hill/current_issues.html.For moreEMS Insiderarticles, visitwww.jems.com/emsinsider