EMS services feel the impact of federal cuts

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Regarding the June 11 article "Federal Funding Cuts Hurt Hospitals, Physicians": Another impact of the Medicare cuts that many don't consider is on emergency medical services, which are dealing with the same cuts.

Denis Lukes of the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania hit the nail on the head: The sequestration cuts are just the latest in a series of cuts over the past few years, with seemingly no end in sight.

Unfortunately, many don't realize that most EMS services receive no financial support from the municipalities they serve. EMS services buy ambulances, update equipment, pay employees, buy uniforms, provide health benefits, insure themselves, pay utilities and pay countless other expenses solely with reimbursement from Medicare and insurance companies, subscription and donation drives, and a few small grants. The costs of fuel and health insurance have increased exponentially while our reimbursement rates regularly take a hit.

Even the best-paid of EMS employees are paid abysmally in proportion to the magnitude of the responsibility and physical and emotional demands placed on them daily. I wonder if those holding the budget hostage in Congress have ever considered what would happen if they called 911, and there was no EMS to respond, due largely in part to their cuts.

I wonder if those who propose a retirement age of 70 have ever carried people down flights of stairs as part of their occupation.

JANIS V. MILLER
South Park

The writer is a paramedic with a nonprofit EMS service.


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