Statement from Jeanne Kerwin, Director,

EMS Division, Atlantic Health System:

To local area volunteer first aid squads:

There are impending changes being made to the way in which Medicare and other insurance carriers will reimburse MICU services in NJ in the year 2000. These changes are being implemented by HCFA (Health Care Finance Administration) which administers federal Medicare dollars and are NOT likely to be in the best interest of NJ's two-tiered EMS system. We anticipate a significant loss of revenue because of these changes.

Part of the recommended changes may force MICU services in NJ who are now largely non-transport services, to actually provide the transport of patients treated by MICUs. We do not support this change in any way and, in fact, are working on several levels around the State to oppose this change. However, we have not had a very good history of changing HCFA rules.

In anticipation of these changes, Overlook MICU will be replacing its recently totaled MICU vehicle with a transport-capable vehicle. It is the opinion of many in the State that MICU suburban vehicles may become obsolete by virtue of HCFA rules and purchasing a new converted Suburban in an uncertain environment seems risky. If our opposition to these transport rules is successful, this transport ambulance will not be used to transport ALS patients and can be turned over to a new AHS transportation service that is anticipated to start up in the year 2000. AHS hospitals are currently planning to provide routine scheduled transportation between its member hospitals for cardiac surgery, pediatrics, NICU and the new neuro science center at Overlook and will be using ambulances and vans for this purpose.

The purpose of this statement is to keep you apprised of current events in the health care market and to assure you that AHS and each of its member hospitals, emergency departments and MICUs strongly support the local volunteer ambulance system that we currently have in place and we value the services that you provide to integrate with our MICU and Emergency Department services. AHS will continue to provide support to all of our volunteer squads and we earnestly hope that HCFA regulators will see the wisdom of leaving the system capable of continuing as it exists.

As we learn more about the final configuration of these new rules, we will be keeping you informed. As we figure out how the new rules will be implemented, we will be working closely with our volunteer squad representatives to continue the integrated teamwork we have worked so hard to perfect in NJ.

If you have any suggestions, questions or ideas, please feel free to contact any of the following members of our EMS Division team at AHS:

Jeanne Kerwin, Director (908) 522-2974

Susan Caputo, Site Supervisor, Morristown (973) 971-4051

Anne Pacifico, Site Supervisor, Overlook (908) 522-2864

(November, 1999)

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