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Gas prices fueling challenges for EMS services across the state

For many emergency services managers, it’s like a double whammy navigating increased costs amid a worker shortage.

ST PAUL, Minn. — These days we’re all feeling the pain at the pump, and the emergency services we depend on aren’t exempt from record high gas prices either. 

"Last month we spent about $94,000 on fuel," said M Health Fairview's Chief of EMS Tom Edminson. 

That’s up nearly $50,000 from the $45,000 they typically spend each month according to Edmindon. 

"Not only is our fuel cost going up impacting us, but the fuel costs of the delivery service that are bringing us supplies and equipment are going up and they’re passing that cost onto us too,” said Edmindon.

While revenue streams have stayed the same for larger agencies, with ambulance services being paid through insurance reimbursements, the situation is more dire for smaller agencies in the rural parts of the state like in Stevens County. 

"We still have to respond, we still have patients that need to be cared for and transported and we can’t simply increase what we bill because what we bill doesn’t correspond with what we actually get paid when we’re talking about Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement," said Stevens County EMS Director Josh Fischer. 

For Fischer, it’s like a double whammy navigating increased costs amid a worker shortage.

"We can’t find people that will commit to working nights, weekends, holidays for what the system allows them to be paid," explained Fischer. He went on to say, "we need our elected officials at all levels to help us pursue sustainable solutions to those challenges.”

Challenges which Fischer says could ultimately lead to calls in some regions of the state, going unanswered. 

"When we think about the future and where we’re heading, unfortunately it does mean that services could be compromised," said Fischer. "Or we’re going to have to call the neighboring ambulance service, all those things are very real possibilities as we think about where we’re heading with respect to some of these challenges we’re facing.”

Leaders with M Health Fairview say they're working with legislators to try and increase those insurance reimbursements to help alleviate some of the skyrocketing costs these agencies are dealing with. 

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