Bennet Proposes Bipartisan Bill to Improve Delivery of Field Emergency Medical Services

Promotes Innovation in Care Delivery, Streamlines Federal Support

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) to improve emergency medical and trauma care outside the hospital, often known as field emergency medical services (EMS). The bill provides incentives for field EMS providers to deliver a high quality of care through innovative practices, while also streamlining the sources of federal support.

“Our nation’s medical first responders are saving lives on a daily basis and can make all the difference in emergency situations,” Bennet said. “This bill will help emergency medical responders in the field address a number of challenges so they can continue providing the best possible care to patients. Improving response times, promoting better coordination among providers, and preparing technicians for disasters will hopefully help save even more lives.”

The Field EMS Innovation Act builds on a 2006 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that identifies systemic problems plaguing our nation’s EMS system. EMS currently falls under the jurisdiction of multiple federal agencies, making it difficult to seek federal financial support. Other problems identified in the report include: insufficient coordination among EMS providers, disparities in response times, uncertain quality of care, lack of readiness, and inadequate federal funding for disaster preparedness, among others.

The Bennet-Crapo bill would provide a path toward the vision outlined by the IOM report. It would update the payment model for ambulance providers with one that pays providers for quality care based on the medical needs of the patient. It would also establish the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as the primary agency for EMS in order to integrate field EMS into the broader health care system. The bill also promotes the adoption of physician-developed guidelines for training and creates new grant programs to support care delivery and performance of the EMS system. The grant programs would be supported by a dedicated EMS Trust Fund and a tax designation on federal income tax forms for voluntary contributions.‎

“Senator Bennet's leadership on the EMS Field Bill will help set the stage for innovation in EMS in this country. This legislation will compliment Colorado's EMS System with its diverse EMS providers, strong state leadership, and excellent research facilities,” ‎Chief Bruce Evans of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District in Bayfield said.

The bill is supported by dozens of EMS and health care organizations around the country.