Assemblyman Santabarbara, Senator Hinchey: New Rural Health Care Bill Signed into Law

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Assembly Chair of the Commission on Rural Resources, and Senator Michelle Hinchey announced a new bill establishing a New York State Rural Ambulance Task Force to help improve the quality and availability of ambulance services in rural areas has been signed into law (Ch. 778 of 2022). This task force will be charged with several initiatives that include making recommendations to the state legislature on funding needs and policy issues concerning ambulance services in rural communities.
“During the height of the pandemic, the role our ambulance workers play in the health of our communities was highlighted in a time of uncertainty,” Assemblyman Santabarbara said. “Unfortunately, many of the ambulance service providers in the rural areas of our state continue to face unique challenges that have caused many to close their doors. That’s why I worked to bring the concerns of the rural families I represent to the forefront by getting this important bill passed and signed into law. Rural New York is an integral part of our economy and culture, and as chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources I will continue advocating for the health and prosperity of our rural communities.”

Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “An ongoing fight for rural New Yorkers is securing equal access to quality health care. In our medically underserved communities, where the nearest hospital can be over an hour away, reliance on volunteer EMS agencies is high, but with scarce resources, an alarming number of ambulance services have been forced to close their doors, pushing rural areas further into health disparity. Establishing this task force will help identify specific long-term solutions to stabilize this urgent health care need and prevent further EMS closures. Improving access to healthcare for New Yorkers will always be a top priority, and I’m proud that my bill with Assemblyman Santabarbara to protect our EMS providers and the communities they serve is now law.”

The task force will be charged with conducting a study on the availability of ambulance services in rural areas, focusing on the unique challenges they face and their ability to provide services. The report must include but is not limited to an analysis of the total number of ambulance services available in rural areas of the state; an assessment of current reimbursement structure plans for ambulances services as well as various methods to fund or otherwise raise revenue; an assessment of existing barriers to access that may have led to a shortage of available ambulance services to meet demand; and any other issues deemed relevant for study by the task force. This law comes at a time when all of New York is managing its recovery process and will ensure we have a stronger health care system moving forward, Santabarbara noted.