House committee takes closer look at Bizzarro community paramedicine bill

HARRISBURG, April 7 – The state House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee today held a public hearing at the state Capitol in Harrisburg on legislation sponsored by state Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, designed to expand community paramedicine treatment throughout the commonwealth and better control associated costs to patients.

Bizzarro’s H.B. 1113 would direct the state Health Department to establish regulations to certify community paramedicine providers, allowing them to more widely treat patients in Pennsylvania. It would also require insurance coverage and medical reimbursement for services.

"Community paramedicine has emerged as an effective option for patients, and already exists in areas like Erie, Pittsburgh, Altoona, Lancaster and Harrisburg," Bizzarro said. "For patients with chronic illnesses or who need follow-up medical care, for example, community paramedicine provides an efficient alternative to the emergency room or other arenas. Today’s hearing allowed us to hear more about how these services are already operating and what needs to be done to ensure the expansion of community paramedicine is most beneficial for Pennsylvanians."

Under Bizzarro’s bill, emergency medical services (EMS) providers would be able to deliver health care in patients' own homes or in other appropriate settings. They would be permitted to administer services like health assessments, disease monitoring and hospital follow-up care in consultation with patients’ health care practitioners.

"A recent RAND Corporation study shows up to 27 percent of all emergency room visits are for non-urgent care that could otherwise be administered in a doctor’s office or clinic," Bizzarro said. "We must cut down on these unnecessary health costs and leave our ERs for our most critical patients. Community paramedicine allows us the opportunity to do just that."

Bizzarro made some opening remarks, along with the committee’s chairmen, state Reps. Steve Barrar, R-Chester/Delaware, and Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence. Testifiers included representatives from the following organizations: Center for Emergency Medicine of Western Pennsylvania Inc.; Geisinger Health System; Highmark Inc.; EmergyCare; Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council Community Paramedicine Task Force; Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania; and Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania.