MT lawmakers look to address ‘ambulance deserts’

A group of Montana lawmakers met with ambulance service providers last week to see if there’s a way to fix what many say is a financial crisis hitting the emergency services industry in the state.

Sen. Shane Morigeau, a Democrat from Missoula, is a member of the 2023-2024 Economic Affairs Interim Committee at the Montana Legislature. The committee held a hearing to discuss the failure of a bill in the last session, HB 828, that would have established an ambulance provider assessment fee in order to leverage federal dollars.

Morigeau told his fellow committee members that a constituent once complained to him that two girls, who were in critical condition following a highway car crash, had to wait over an hour for an ambulance.

“And that was because we have an ambulance desert problem,” Morigeau said. “It’s a problem that needs to be fixed.”

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By “ambulance desert,” Morigeau was referring to places in rural Montana that are far away from the nearest ambulance provider.

Many ambulance providers around the state say that the reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid, along with trouble recruiting and retaining paramedics, is hurting their financial stability.


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