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Special commission on Maine Emergency Medical Services meets to address major funding gap

Hermon Volunteer Rescue & First Aid Squad INC. on Billings Road.
Linda Coan O'Kresi
Hermon Volunteer Rescue & First Aid Squad INC. on Billings Road.

A Blue Ribbon Commission to study Emergency Medical Services in Maine says reimbursement rates don't match the cost of providing services.

Commission member Rick Petrie, a paramedic who represents for-profit ambulance services, says one of the challenges is paying for the cost of readiness for EMS providers.

"If you compare reimbursement to EMS with what everybody else gets, we'll never get out of this hole. Ever. And the reason is because our patients don't come to us. We have to put two people on a $250,000 ambulance - $400,000 when you look at all the equipment - to be available to respond to someone when they call 911."

The commission, which met Monday at the State House, is building off the work of a previous panel that last year recommended the state allocate $70 million annually for five years to support EMS providers. The latest budget allocated $31 million.