Friday, April 13, 2018

Some rural patients could lack access to dialysis after non-emergency ambulance reimbursement cut takes effect

Rural dialysis patients could lose access to treatment when a 13 percent cut in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for non-emergency ambulance transportation goes into effect Oct. 1.

The cut was included in the continuing resolution Congress passed in February. It comes on top of a 10 percent cut mandated in 2013, which means the reimbursement for such ambulance rides will be 23 percent less than five years earlier.

Virgil Dickson reports for Modern Healthcare, "Transportation for dialysis patients can mean the difference between life and death for some, as many aren't able to drive or don't own cars, according to Alice Andors, a spokeswoman for the American Kidney Fund, a charity dedicated to helping kidney patients pay their insurance costs."

Health-care providers may no longer be able to afford to send ambulances on dialysis runs. John Watts, CEO of South Carolina ambulance provider MedTrust, said his company can't afford to provide dialysis transportation, and said rural patients with no other options will likely suffer. Joyce Noles with West Tennessee Healthcare told Dickson that the company may start using stretcher vans for dialysis rides, which would mean that patients who experience a medical problem during transit would not have a medical professional present to help.

As we reported yesterday, Type 2 diabetes is a major health concern in rural America, and rural residents are already at an increased risk of dying from diabetes-related hospitalizations.

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