Oct. 19, 2023

HARRISBURG – Residents in Pennsylvania’s rural communities and the medical professionals who serve them face significant challenges. State Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) and his House colleagues are on the verge of addressing one of those key issues.

“Emergency service providers are reimbursed for mileage, but the rates at which they are compensated are significantly insufficient for rural companies which are forced to travel greater distances,” Struzzi said. “The result is a financial burden that threatens their existence, but Gov. Josh Shapiro can change that with his pen.”

The House and Senate have overwhelmingly agreed on legislation that would tie the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates to federal Medicare rates, and pay whichever amount is higher. House Bill 1351, of which Struzzi is a cosponsor, would also ensure EMS agencies are reimbursed by Medicaid for 100% of the miles they travel with a patient on board receiving care or transport, finally removing the current exemption for the first 20 miles traveled.

“This legislation becoming law would be incredible beneficial for Citizens’ Ambulance Service and its counterparts across the state which are struggling financially for reasons that are out of their hands,” added Struzzi. “Under the current system, an ambulance needs to travel 20 miles before reimbursable miles can be considered. A lot can happen before then and that situation needs to change.

Medicare reimburses at a rate of more than $8 per mile in both urban and rural areas and $13 for the first 17 miles in super rural areas.

House Bill 1351 would also benefit Indiana Regional Medical Center, which is a member of the Pennsylvania Rural Health Redesign Center Authority (RHRCA). Created in 2019, the RHRCA promotes access in rural communities to high-quality health care by encouraging innovation in health care delivery.

“Addressing financing issues related to the ongoing work of the authority and making its objectives attractive to other interested rural Pennsylvania hospitals is part of the legislation as well,” Struzzi commented. “House Bill 1351 also increases the amount of money held in the Quality Care Restricted Account, which ensure patients’ access to adequate care by helping to pay for the services patients covered by Medicaid receive at hospitals.”

Questions about this or any legislative issue should be directed to Struzzi’s Indiana district office at 724-465-0220.

Representative Jim Struzzi
62nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives