Medicare ambulance rides may no longer end up at ER
WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare officials say they want to change how the program pays for emergency ambulance services to give seniors more options besides going to a hospital emergency department.
Other options could include going to an urgent care center, a doctor’s office, or even treatment at home under supervision of a doctor via telehealth links.
The plan announced Thursday is just a pilot project for now, but if adopted nationwide it could save Medicare more than $500 million a year and allow local fire departments and ambulance services to focus resources on the most serious emergencies by reducing time-consuming hospital runs.
Some advocates for patients welcomed the plan, but said it needs careful review and supervision.
Currently Medicare only pays for transportation to a hospital, in most cases.