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Washington State Passes Bill Supporting Public EMS and Fire Agencies

Olympia, Wa. – This week, Washington State took another step in leveraging pre-hospital providers to be part of the healthcare solution.

Following the initial launch of community paramedic programs, the issue of sustainability quickly emerged. Those of us who have deployed community paramedics (MIH) programs have witnessed the broad impact in our communities. However, due to the diverse impact of these programs; it has made it challenging to identify sustainable funding pathways.

A new law passed this week is a step toward creating sustainable funding for community paramedic/ MIH programs.

Wednesday, Governor Inslee signed House Bill 1358 into law. This law directs the state Healthcare Authority to adopt reimbursement standards for public fire and EMS agencies providing services to Medicaid patients who do not require transport to an emergency department. As long as this law stays within the budget, it begins the work of shifting EMS away from a fee for transport model.  EMS providers are in the unique position to identify and provide valuable care and avoid a transport.  These services improve the quality of life and health for our citizens while reducing the cost of healthcare.

This bill builds on the legislation passed in 2015 which allows pre-hospital providers to serve patients outside of emergency situations.  Effectively allowing community paramedic/MIH programs to operate in Washington State.

This collaborative effort to legislate change was led by Geoff Simpson of the State Council of Firefighters, Division Chief Mitch Snider of the Puget Sound Fire Authority and Deputy Chief Shaughn Maxwell of Snohomish County Fire District 1.