Community EMS Bill Passes Assembly

By The Milton Courier

Madison – Today, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 151 (AB 151), authored by Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and Representative Katrina Shankland, (D-Stevens Point) by a bipartisan, unanimous vote. AB 151 will advance opportunities for non-emergency health care services to be provided in Wisconsin.

AB 151 creates and defines community paramedics (CPs) and community emergency medical technicians (CEMTs). It will allow for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to operate in a non-emergency setting, under the medical direction of a physician, to provide treatment outside of a hospital.

Community Emergency Medical Service (CEMS) is part of what many people associate with Mobile Integrated Health (MIH). In its simplest definition, MIH is the provision of healthcare using patient centered, mobile resources in the out-of-hospital environment. It may include services such as: working with the local hospital to provide community paramedicine care, chronic disease management, preventive care or post-discharge follow up visits. The development of a CEMS program will allow hospitals, private ambulance companies, and municipal EMS providers to develop new strategies for delivering quality care, in the right place, and at the right time.

“Over the last 18 months, we have worked with several stakeholder groups to create a bill that we believe encourages partnerships to provide quality care for people all across Wisconsin. We wanted to find balance while providing flexibility for these programs to truly reflect the needs that each individual community faces,” said Rep. Loudenbeck.

"I'm proud that this bipartisan bill has passed the Assembly after years of work on this vital legislation," said Rep. Shankland. "Assembly Bill 151 increases access to care, especially for people living in rural areas. It creates jobs for community paramedics, who can help address and fill in the gaps in underserved communities, rural communities, and areas of the state with high health care demands. Community paramedicine can also reduce emergency room costs and will strengthen public health across Wisconsin."

As more and more communities consider establishing CEMS, one of the challenges they encounter is a lack of state standards to follow, and no specific qualifications or guidance regarding services that can be provided.  This bill creates training standards, sets parameters for working with a hospital, and gives the Department of Health Services (DHS) the ability to approve individuals for a credential and various training programs.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate to have a public hearing and be voted on.