Administration and Leadership, Industry News

EMS Reform Moves Forward in Georgia House

ATLANTA, GEORGIA (March 6, 2019) Proposed legislation to end a transparency and ethics gap allowing ambulance vendors to direct taxpayer resources in the provision and delivery of emergency medical services across Georgia was approved Tuesday night by the House Health and Human Services Committee.

The committee voted unanimously to support HB 264, which would ban ambulance vendors from serving on certain Department of Public Health Emergency Medical Service Advisory Council committees and require vendors to register with the state ethics commission.

Rep. Sharon Cooper, chairwoman of the House and Health Services Committee, said at Tuesday’s hearing: “Many of the zones across our state have very good ambulance service, but just like in anything there are some bad actors.”

The legislation, which makes it easier for regulators and taxpayers to identify bad actors, was introduced by House Industry and Labor Chairman Bill Werkheiser, who added: “I’ve heard from victims in virtually every corner of the state through this process, and the absolute imperative to enact national best-practice reforms couldn’t be clearer to me. I’m encouraged that every member of the House Health and Human Services Committee agreed.”

The Georgia Ambulance Transparency Project applauded Tuesday’s vote and called on the House Rules Committee, where the bill must pass again before receiving full consideration from the chamber, to swiftly approve the reforms.

“After decades of weak oversight, Tuesday’s vote was an important first step to restoring transparency and taxpayer accountability to Georgia’s emergency medical services sector,” GATP spokeswoman Julianne Thompson said. “The Georgia Ambulance Transparency Project and its coalition partners remain undaunted by the task at hand and will continue aggressively pressing the General Assembly to enact the common sense, good government reforms contained in HB 264.”

HB 264 would:

Ban ambulance vendors from serving on Department of Public Health Emergency Medical Service Advisory Council committees that select service providers;

  • Mandatory chair rotations and term limits for councilors;
  • Require vendors to register with the state ethics commission;
  • Require mandatory service provider reviews to ensure safety; and
  • Require that all ambulance providers meet safety standards.

The Georgia Ambulance Transparency Project is a bipartisan coalition of good government advocates working to restore ethics to the provision and delivery of ambulance services across the state.