Paramedicine watchword for East Fork
Minden, Nev. — With emergency services calls growing at 5 percent a year and the two busiest East Fork Fire District ambulances assigned to incidents seven hours a day, the district hopes that a new program will help reduce the number of calls.
On Monday, the district learned that Nevada had received approval from Medicare and Medicaid to reimburse paramedicine.
“East Fork’s big ambition with community paramedicine is our involvement with the mobile outreach safety team that includes Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas Counseling,” Deputy Fire Chief Dave Fogerson said. “Our desire is to reduce emergency calls for service through pro-active visits with those in need of help.”
Fogerson said getting help to people at risk before they require an emergency visit is one of the ways the district is using to reduce the number of incidents.
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Director Richard Whitley announced that the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid approved a Division of Health Care Financing Policy Nevada Medicaid State Plan Amendment that updates coverage and reimbursement to include community paramedicine services.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Nevada to fill the gaps in health care in both rural and urban locations around the state,” DHCFP Acting Administrator Marta Jensen said. “Over time, this should reduce costly hospital re-admissions and free up physicians’ time to see more critical cases as well as provide wellness interventions to the citizens of Nevada.”
In the final days of the 2015 Nevada legislative session, Assembly Bill 305, sponsored by Assemblyman James Oscarson, was signed into law by Gov. Brain Sandoval. Community paramedicine was added to Nevada Revised Statutes 450B.
With federal approval for reimbursement of the services, Nevada is poised to become a national leader in a promising model for integrating emergency and primary care.
“Community paramedics offer extensive background experience and will provide for better access to health care,” Oscarson said. “Nevada now has an opportunity to fill unmet or unrealized community primary care and health needs. Using EMS providers in an expanded role will increase patient access to primary and preventive care, save healthcare dollars and improve patient outcomes.”
The Division of Public and Behavioral Health has partnered with the EMS industry and the EMS Advisory Committee to craft appropriate regulatory language for this new provision of health care and with the Southern Nevada Health District.
The regulations are scheduled to be adopted at the Nevada State Board of Health during the December 2016 meeting.
East Fork Fire District is one of four emergency medical services in Nevada fully certified to perform community paramedicine.
Coverage for medically necessary community paramedicine service is designed to provide health care services to the medically underserved.
Community paramedicine services (provided by an emergency medical technician, advanced emergency medical technician, or paramedic) fill patient gaps in a local health care system and prevent duplication of services while improving the health care services of the recipient. Prevention of unnecessary ambulance responses, emergency room visits and hospital admissions can result in cost reductions for the state. Services must be part of the care plan ordered by the recipient’s primary care provider and may include: evaluation-health assessments, chronic disease prevention, monitoring and education, medication compliance, and immunizations and vaccinations.