If your fire department provides ambulance transportation for EMS patients, you’ve likely seen a financial impact from COVID-19 responses. While some agencies in the COVID-19 hotspots have seen increases in transports, the majority of departments are seeing decreased call volumes (and corresponding reductions in reimbursements) due to fewer patients wanting to go to a hospital. At the same time, agencies are confronted with increased response costs relating to personal protective equipment (PPE) and decontamination requirements. These costs, coupled with increased staffing costs, can make it very difficult for a fire chief to manage their budget.
When Congress passed the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) recently, it included $100 billion in financial support for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide to Medicare suppliers and providers. On April 10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) began distributing the first $30 billion of these funds. The purpose of these funds, the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, is to assist Medicare-participating entities in covering a variety of unreimbursed costs that are incurred in the course of caring for COVID-19 patients. On April 22, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they will release an additional $20 billion (pdf) to Medicare participating entities.