By the City Times
MADISON – On Nov. 27, Governor Walker signed into law Assembly Bill 151, legislation co-authored by Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) to create a Community Paramedic and EMS program in Wisconsin. Rep. Shankland teamed up with Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) to introduce the bill, which passed both houses of the legislature with unanimous bipartisan support.
Assembly Bill 151 will allow paramedics and EMTs to operate in a non-emergency setting, under the medical direction of a physician, to help patients with chronic conditions and patients post-discharge for follow-up care. Several hospitals and fire departments have already started Community EMS pilot programs on their own, and Assembly Bill 151 will create uniform standards statewide.
“When I first began developing this legislation three years ago, I was excited by the new and innovative solution to healthcare access that a Community EMS program could offer,” said Rep. Shankland. “Dozens of stakeholder meetings and almost as many bill drafts later, I’m incredibly proud that our bipartisan bill has become reality. Assembly Bill 151 will create another access point to healthcare by making services available to people who might otherwise have difficulty accessing care.”
By reducing hospital re-admissions and connecting individuals with preventive resources, Community EMS programs help mitigate costs to hospitals and insurance companies, potentially lowering healthcare costs over time. Assembly Bill 151 will not cost the state any money to implement and will give local communities the freedom to tailor services to their specific needs.
“Wisconsin has many challenges in the healthcare workforce, including an aging population,” continued Rep. Shankland. “Community EMS helps bridge this gap by expanding patient-centered care, especially in regions that are underserved, rural, or have high health care demands. I look forward to seeing the positive impacts this bill will have in our communities across Wisconsin.”
Assembly Bill 151 was developed in collaboration with the Wisconsin EMS Association, the Professional Ambulance Association of Wisconsin, the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health, the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association, and other stakeholder groups.