Governor Shapiro visited West End Ambulance Service in 2017 and promised to deliver more resources. The first budget he signed into law boosted EMS reimbursement rates. “I’m going to propose in my next budget doubling the Fire and EMS grant program, which this department has taken advantage of in the past.” – Governor Josh Shapiro
Johnstown, PA – On Monday, Governor Josh Shapiro traveled to Johnstown to visit the West End Ambulance Service alongside Rep. Frank Burns, deliver donuts, and meet with first responders to discuss his record of investing in first responders and his plans to propose a $30 million increase for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) funding in the 2024-25 budget through the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program – doubling last year’s investment of $30 million to a total of $60 million. EMS companies can use these grants for many things including equipment, facilities upgrades, training, recruitment, and more.
While meeting with first responders, Governor Shapiro shared his plans to double funding for EMS services: “I’m going to propose in my next budget doubling the Fire and EMS grant program, which this department has taken advantage of in the past. Ideally, we’re going to increase the amount that’s coming here. And I think we have to look at ways to see what we could do on salary and benefits for our professionals who are out trying to save lives every single day.”
Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Tom Cook said of the proposal to double funding, “Our fire companies and first responders put their health and safety on the line every day. These additional investments in OSFC’s Fire and EMS Grant Program would help support the good work they do by helping departments recruit more first responders, update outdated safety equipment, provide additional training, and more.”
In 2017, Governor Shapiro visited the West End Ambulance Service, where they told him about how they need more resources. Since then, Governor Shapiro has secured billions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic and in his first budget, boosted funding for EMS reimbursement rates by over $20 million. Effective January 1, 2024, DHS will now reimburse EMS providers for every loaded mile of a trip at $13.20 per mile. Effective with the increase in reimbursement, mileage reimbursement now begins at the point an individual is loaded into the ambulance for transport. Prior to this change, mileage reimbursement occurred only after the first 20 miles of transport.
Since taking office, Governor Shapiro has been focused on creating safer communities through investments in first responders and law enforcement officers. Governor Shapiro knows firsthand that first responders are on the frontlines keeping their communities safe – and his upcoming budget proposal will continue to invest in equipment, training, and staffing needs so EMS providers can do just that.
Read this new reporting about Governor Shapiro’s focus on creating safer communities and supporting first responders here and below.
Back in 2017, then-Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro hosted a roundtable at Johnstown’s West End Ambulance Service. He heard concerns from worn-out first responders who were seeking help in the fight against the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Shapiro, now governor, returned to the same building on Monday to provide an update and thank the members for their input years ago.
“When I found I was coming here (to Johnstown), I asked to come back to West End because you guys had a big impact on me,” Shapiro said at the informal gathering of emergency medical services personnel. “It was, like seven years ago. I was a brand-new AG, and I came here to talk about the opioid crisis.”
He said that participants in the roundtable “rightfully” told him that reimbursement rates for ambulance miles traveled were “too low” and that “there wasn’t enough money coming into the community to deal with the opioid crisis.”
Shapiro, as attorney general, joined a multi-state legal action against drug manufacturers who contributed to the epidemic. Pennsylvania ultimately received more than $1 billion in settlement money, with the funds planned for communities hit by the crisis.
Last year, with Shapiro as governor, the commonwealth also increased the Medicaid and Medicare travel reimbursement rates.
“You guys got in my head seven years ago,” Shapiro said. “You taught me about this, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Now I’m in a position to do something about it, and we are.”
The governor also talked about plans for possible increased EMS funding.
“I’m going to propose in my next budget doubling the EMS grant program, which this department has taken advantage of in the past,” Shapiro said during an interview after the discussion.
“Ideally, we’re going to increase the amount that’s coming here. And I think we have to look at ways to see what we could do on salary and benefits for our professionals who are out trying to save lives every single day.”
Johnstown Fire Department Chief Bob Statler raised the issue of wages, saying, “One of the biggest problems, I think, when you get people, is holding them. They get into it for the right reason, but somewhere along the line, they realize there’s other medical professions that pay more than EMS does, and they choose to go to college and go to that other profession.
“Then you lose them, just based off of pay.”