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State Senator

Terry Gerratana

Representing Berlin, Farmington & New Britain

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Gerratana, Kennedy, and Leone Lead Senate Passage of Cost-saving Community Paramedicine Legislation

Bill will result in recommendations for the statewide implementation of a plan to allow paramedics to provide expanded health services

HARTFORD, CT – Senators Terry Gerratana (D-New Britain), Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford), and Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) secured the bipartisan, unanimous Senate passage of SB 317, a bill to expand the role of paramedics beyond their traditional emergency response and transportation functions.

“Adopting a community paramedicine model will allow Connecticut to take full advantage of our many experienced and highly capable paramedics,” said Senator Gerratana, Co-Chair of the Public Health Committee. “These medical professionals are more than capable of providing a range of first responder care, and yet under current law, they are only paid for driving patients to the hospitals. These ambulance rides and hospital stays are often unnecessary and can be very expensive, creating an undue financial burden on the state of Connecticut and the patients themselves. Community paramedicine would be a win for the state and for the hard-working men and women working as emergency medical responders. This bill is a critical step toward that goal, and I am very happy to see it move forward.”

“Paramedics are highly trained, capable professionals and we should be allowing them to use the full breadth of their knowledge and experience when managing patients,” said Senator Kennedy, Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee and a healthcare attorney. “The group established by this bill will seek to enable paramedics to provide the fullest level of care they are trained for while also reducing costs to Connecticut’s Medicaid system by expensive and often unnecessary ambulance rides. Paramedics are more than capable of providing critical care to people who  need help but do not need to be hospitalized, but this state is not letting them do that. Enabling paramedics to do more than just drive a patient to the hospital will ensure patients are getting prompt and appropriate care while saving the state money.”

“This was a Stamford-inspired piece of legislation, resulting from talks I had last year with Stamford paramedics,” Senator Leone said. “So I'm happy to vote for legislation that allows our paramedics to provide additional services to patients who are not in need of real emergency care, but who can benefit from the paramedic's training and experience since they are already there. I also want to thank Senators Kennedy and Gerratana for their hard work and consideration in getting this bill approved in the Public Health Committee.”

Under current law, Connecticut’s paramedics are only paid for a call if they transport a patient to the hospital. This creates a disincentive to provide immediate assistance in the home, transport the patient to a more appropriate destination, or do anything other than drive the person to an emergency room. Implementing a community paramedicine model would fix that disincentive.

Community paramedicine is a new and emerging model of community-based care that is being utilized by numerous communities around the country. Paramedics, working in the community, can provide needed primary care services and reduce overuse of emergency room visits for patients who do not require costly ambulance transportation to an acute care hospital, especially frequent 911 callers. Recent studies have also shown that paramedics also perform post-discharge follow-up visits and other health care assessments. Private health insurers are already compensating EMTs for home visits in many parts of the country. With the costs of healthcare rising dramatically, and recognizing the huge sums that Connecticut’s Medicaid plan pays for unnecessary ambulance transport, Gerratana, Kennedy, Leone and others have worked to adopt the community paramedicine model.

Now that Senate Bill 317 has passed out of the Senate, it moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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