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Congress considers funding boost for rural emergency services

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  • Staff Report 

Congressional lawmakers are urging for millions of dollars in support to be provided to rural emergency medical service organizations that have struggled for years with recruitment and funding. The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the financial and personnel struggles of these organizations, making it more difficult to provide critical care to patients.

Republican Representative Marc Molinaro will announce a $50 million funding measure for EMS agencies on Thursday, which has garnered Democratic support in the House of Representatives. Molinaro stated that EMS agencies are being asked to do more with fewer staff, funds, and resources, and that while they are heroes, they cannot be expected to do the impossible.

The proposed bill would create a grant program through the US Department of Health and Human Services, aimed at providing funding to aid public, private and non-profit organizations, as well as state and local governments to train and hire personnel, and receive reimbursement for training and improvements for facilities. The measure would also provide $5 million in funding to aid EMS agencies in the grant application process.

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Molinaro wrote the legislation after rural ambulance services raised concerns with him over funding and personnel. The issues faced by EMS organizations are profound and systemic, and they provide critically important medical care that is often life-saving and essential to the reduction of pain and treatment of acute conditions, said Diane Scalzo, the supervisor of the town of Columbus in Chenango County.

Rural EMS organizations have been on financial life-support for some time, and it is hoped that this proposed funding measure will help to address the pressing issues faced by these organizations, and provide much-needed support to help them continue to provide vital care to patients in rural areas.