First Responders: Ambulances in Jeopardy under Proposal

By: Rahel Solomon Email
By: Rahel Solomon Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Emergency medics gathered at West Virginia's state Capitol Monday afternoon to protest a Medicaid proposal that would give non-emergency transportation calls -- like transporting patients to their dialysis -- to large for-profit ambulance companies.

“When we say that we need that business to support those 911 calls, we're not just saying that we really desperately mean that,” Jan Care Director of Operation Paul Seamann said Monday afternoon.

Jan Care Ambulance serves rural communities in West Virginia, including Nicholas, Fayette, and Raleigh counties, that would likely be negatively impacted with possibly longer response times.

Seamann tells the problem with the proposal is that ambulance authorities use the revenue from those calls to help cover costs associated with emergency calls.

“Come the time of a blizzard or a mine explosion, these people couldn't handle it, the services wouldn't transfer over,” Seamann added, saying “There will be fewer emergency ambulance trucks, there is no question.”

Supporters of the proposal say the initiative would save millions of dollars each year for state and federal Medicaid costs.

Those rallying Monday called for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to reject the plan. attempted to reach Tomblin’s office, but had not heard back as of Monday night.

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