Ambulance services suffer as Illinois delays payments
3 months, 3 weeks ago
Delays of six months to a year for Medicaid payments have required ambulance services to borrow money to make payroll
When an ambulance is dispatched in Illinois to help the victim of a car crash, shooting or heart attack, the paramedics who arrive don’t ask — and are prohibited by law from considering — whether that person has a certain kind of health insurance or no coverage at all.
Ambulance services can’t discriminate when it comes to relieving patients’ suffering. But the state’s ongoing backlog of bills is inflicting financial pain on ambulance providers if those patients are covered by Illinois’ Medicaid program or the group health-insurance program for state employees, retirees and dependents.
“Nobody seems to care,” said Andrew Thornton, the Illinois State Ambulance Association’s chairman for governmental affairs.
Delays of six months to a year for Medicaid payments and more than a year for state employee insurance have required ambulance services to borrow money to make payroll. The delays, on top of already inadequate Medicaid payments, also have depressed salaries for ambulance crew members and made it harder to replace equipment, emergency medical service officials say.