CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A new effort is underway in West Virginia to raise Medicaid’s reimbursement rates for ambulances.

Gov. Jim Justice announced during his Wednesday COVID-19 briefing that he would direct the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Medical Services to submit a State Plan Amendment to seek approval to raise Medicaid ground ambulance medical transportation services to 100% of the Medicare geographic prevailing fee, meaning that more of the additional charge for an ambulance to a rural area would be covered.

The DHHR said the change will provide approximately 208 ambulance providers with a 10% increase in their reimbursement rates and an estimated additional $11.8 million per fiscal year.

In a press release Wednesday, the Bureau for Medical Services said it anticipates that the rate increase will be effective starting July 1.

The West Virginia EMS Coalition sent a press release with a statement about the decision, saying:

The West Virginia EMS Coalition appreciates the continued leadership of Governor Jim Justice in addressing the crisis facing emergency medical services in West Virginia. The announcement by Governor Justice during Wednesday’s COVID briefing that Medicaid rates will be increased 10% to 100% of Medicare for ground ambulance service is a significant step towards stabilizing EMS agencies in West Virginia.

Workforce shortages and inadequate funding are plaquing emergency medical services nationally. But West Virginia is establishing itself as a leader in addressing this crisis. Governor Justice’s EMS initiative launched last week to recruit and educate EMS personnel along with enhanced Medicaid reimbursement rates are providing a roadmap that other states can follow to address the crisis.

The Justice administration has demonstrated a deep understanding of the challenges emergency medical services are facing and has taken unprecedented action to address them. More aid will be needed to strengthen EMS in our most rural communities, but we are confident that solutions will be found based on the growing support that we have received from the Governor and members of the West Virginia Legislature.

West Virginia EMS Coalition