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Kentucky Health Cabinet takes steps to address lack of adequate ambulance service in several counties

Citing a research report released by Pegasus Institute in July, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has issued an emergency administrative regulation to meet a public health crisis in counties without adequate ambulance service.

The Cabinet pointed to the Louisville-based think tank’s white paper which found that several larger Kentucky counties have only one Class I ambulance provider that is not owned or operated by a public entity. The Cabinet said “private provider monopolies can result in lower quality care for patients and a restriction on the ability for patients to choose providers.”

Six counties in Kentucky have populations of more than 50,000 and only one Class I ambulance provider that is not owned or operated by a public entity: Bullitt, Jessamine, Laurel, McCracken, Pike and Warren. With the new emergency administrative regulation, new providers wishing to establish service in these counties will have an expedited application process and the presumption of need.

“There is a crisis situation in Pike County with regard to ambulance service,” said Mike Taylor, the mayor of Elkhorn City. “Residents have faced wait times of two hours, and we’ve even had to resort to using police for transportation when we could not get ambulance service. I have been pounding the table for several years on this issue and I am thankful for the work of Pegasus Institute and Governor (Matt) Bevin’s Health Cabinet.”

The think tank’s report “Certificate of Need: Kentucky’s CON Regulations and Their Impact on Ambulance Care” found Kentucky has some of the most burdensome certificates of need regulations in the United States. “Pegasus Institute strives to provide public policy research and solutions that help improve the lives of all Kentuckians and we are pleased whenever our work results in positive changes,” said Jordan Harris, executive director of Pegasus Institute. “It’s especially heartening when it’s a matter of public safety. We applaud Governor Bevin and Secretary (Adam) Meier for addressing burdensome certificate of need regulations.”

Kentucky is one of only four states that continues to require a certificate of need to operate ambulance service. The report notes that measured against neighboring states and regional peers, Kentucky residents have access to fewer providers, on average, at every county population level across the state. Counties above 50,000 residents have 25.65 percent fewer providers.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

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