Cape Delegation Tesify on Legislation to Assist CMED Program

posted Jun 2, 2011, 9:32 AM by Elysse Magnotto-Cleary   [ updated Jun 2, 2011, 9:35 AM ]
June 2, 2011
 
Members of the Cape Cod Delegation testified at the June 1, 2011 Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government hearing in support of House Bill 2333, “An Act Relative to coverage of medical emergency communication costs.

 

House Bill 2333 states that the term “cost” shall include the fiscal cost of maintaining and operating any emergency medical dispatch system that links the emergency vehicle of transport with hospitals or health care facilities and the cost shall be a covered medical care expense for any health care insurer doing business in Massachusetts. This does not include reimbursements from Medicaid.  

 

This bill is of great importance and interest, as it would help fund the Centralized Medical Emergency Dispatch (CMED) system, a vital service provided by the Sheriff’s Department to towns on the Cape and Islands, and utilized by all 15 Fire Departments in Barnstable County.  CMED provides specialized radio communications to connect regional hospitals, ambulance services and first responders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The CMED concept was established in the Federal Emergency Medical Services System Act of 1973 and there are currently 7 CMED centers within the commonwealth.  

 

“Because the towns within Barnstable County and the Cape Cod Regional Government are not able to provide fiscal assistance, and the hospitals cannot tack this fee onto patients’ bills, this legislation would call for the cost of each service to be covered by any health care insurer, and ease the burden,” said Rep. Turner.

 

Representatives who presented testimony included chief sponsor Representative Cleon H. Turner, and co-sponsors Representative Sarah K. Peake (D-Provincetown), Representative Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich), Representative Timothy Madden (D-Nantucket), and Representative David Vieira (R-Falmouth). Barnstable County Sheriff James M. Cummings and Barnstable County Commissioner Mary Pat Flynn also testified in support of the legislation.

 

Representative Madden, who sits on the Municipalities Committee, said that "the Cape Delegation made a great case for why this bill is so incredibly important to the residents and visitors of the Cape and Islands and I certainly hope the Committee will agree to vote this bill out favorably."

 

"CMED is a lifesaving service, particularly for the Outer Cape communities where an ambulance ride can be as long as 30-60 minutes. It's essential that the rescue vehicle be in contact with the ER.  This bill is an important part of securing a reliable funding stream,” said Rep. Peake, a co-sponsor of the bill.

 

Without CMED centers, it would not be possible to deploy and coordinate availability of emergency preparedness resources; an ambulance service may not be able to contact a receiving hospital for entry notification for a critically ill or injured patient because the hospital is already communicating with an oncoming ambulance transporting a patient with a minor injury, and multiple area hospitals would not be notified of impending arrival of ambulances from a multi-casualty incident.

 

This piece of legislation is the first step towards making our CMED system sustainable as we explore a more comprehensive funding mechanism," said Rep. Vieira.    

 

In Barnstable County, CMED operations are funded through and dependent on the Sheriff‘s operational budget. In 2009, CMED cost $463,834, and in 2010, CMED cost $457,816. 

 

For further information, please contact Elysse Magnotto in Representative Turner’s office at Elysse.magnotto@mahouse.gov or 617-722-2090.

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