Ambulance Companies Face Medicare Payment Reductions
A new federal fee schedule for Medicare reimbursement of ambulance services could reduce payments by 23%, or $110 million, for California's 280 ambulance companies, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports. The new fee schedule is based on national averages rather than individual companies' charges.
The new policy -- implemented in 2002 and being phased in over five years -- will eliminate payments for disposable supplies and oxygen, according to ambulance industry officials. Ambulance companies also are expecting reductions in mileage reimbursement rates and payments for transporting Medicare patients, which comprise about half of ambulances' customers.
David Nevins, president of the California Ambulance Association, said that the change in policy has translated to a $29 million loss in 2005 on Medicare patients for ambulance companies. Nevins said CAA is asking the federal government to freeze reimbursement rates at the 2005 level to avoid further loss of services (Cutland, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 11/7).