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Senate passes EMS aid package with unanimous support

May 20, 2024

ST. PAUL – Today the Minnesota Senate passed a $30 million aid package for rural emergency medical services (EMS) with unanimous support. The bill provides $24 million in emergency aid for EMS providers who are focused on services in Greater Minnesota. Another $6 million is dedicated to an innovative sprint medic pilot program.

Throughout the interim, a bipartisan EMS Task Force, which included Senator Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) and Senator Jordan Rasmusson (R-Fergus Falls), investigated how the state can improve the life-saving services provided by EMS personnel. The Task Force was created following a 2022 report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA). Field hearings were held throughout the state, and the task force made key recommendations, many of which are reflected in the Senate’s EMS aid package.

The OLA report found the EMS Regulatory Board (EMSRB) was ineffective in its regulatory role. The bill starts to address these issues with a restructuring of the EMSRB. The powers and duties of the EMSRB are moved to a newly established Office of Emergency Medical Services.

As an employee of an emergency medical service, I've seen first-hand the way this crisis has evolved over the last few years,” Sen. Lang said. “The challenges we’re facing in rural Minnesota have gone unaddressed for far too long, leaving our services with outdated equipment and an inability to recruit and retain trained professionals. The bipartisan aid package will ensure that when an ambulance is called, Minnesotans are getting the emergency care they need no matter their zip code.”

“Access to emergency medical services is crucial for Greater Minnesota, but providing these services in our rural areas is much more challenging,” Sen. Rasmusson said. “With the approval of this $30 million EMS aid package, we are extending a lifeline for this critical service. This funding proposal is transparent and prioritizes rural communities that need the most help. I appreciate the collaborative nature of this legislation and the opportunity to work on this issue in a bipartisan manner.”

While the aid package will help, the state can only supplement funds for rural EMS. Overall, the funding remains a federal issue with government reimbursement rates failing to cover the total cost of care.

The EMS aid package also includes a sprint medic pilot program, authorizing trained medical staff to be the first response and determining if an ambulance is necessary. This approach is more mobile, flexible, and can prevent unnecessary ambulance calls that ultimately may not be reimbursed. The program will help connect Minnesotans to care more quickly and ensure the correct level of care is provided.

Additional reforms in the bill help address EMS staffing concerns in rural areas. The changes make it easier to be qualified or certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Emergency Medical Responder, or Ambulatory EMT.