The bill will provide long-needed support to fire departments and EMS professionals across New York.
In honor of National EMS Week, Senator John Brooks (SD-8) joined Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone for a press conference at the Dix Hills Fire Department recognizing the crucial work of EMS professionals. The press conference highlighted Senate Bill S1286, the EMS Cost Recovery Act, a bill that, when signed into law, will provide long-needed support to fire departments and EMS professionals across New York.
In March of 2021, the New York State Senate overwhelmingly passed the EMS Cost Recovery Act, sponsored by Senator John Brooks. Passing the Senate by a 62-1 vote, this act establishes that authorities controlling a fire department or fire company that provides emergency medical services (EMS) may set fees for those services.
The cost of providing emergency medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic is higher than ever before. This increase has placed even more of a burden on volunteer fire departments already struggling to cover EMS costs, leading many to stop offering ambulatory services altogether. Funded primarily through existing fire taxes, departments can not afford to continue providing critical emergency services without raising people's taxes.
With the passage of Senate Bill S1286, these fire departments will see cost recovery and relief without raising taxes a single cent. Once signed into law, this bill will allow departments to establish a schedule of fees to be paid by the person requesting the emergency medical service provided. Fees can be covered through health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid, making EMS affordable for people who need them and saving local fire departments millions.
"As a first responder myself, this issue hits close to home. I understand the dedication and sacrifice that the field entails, and for that I will forever be appreciative to serve and represent those everyday heroes,” said Senator Brooks. “I want all of our fire departments to be able to provide the services necessary to keep the residents of New York safe while also making sure that it is affordable for the departments. Emergency medical services are more important than ever right now, and ensuring that there is widespread access to these services is key in maintaining the public health of New York State.”
When the EMS Cost Recovery Act is signed into law, New York will join every other state in the country in allowing fire departments to charge for EMS. This change will lead to $100 million in property tax savings for New Yorkers while also restoring emergency medical services to areas that currently do not have access to them due to the high operating costs.