Press Release

Welch Awarded Legislator of the Year by National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians 

Apr 19, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) was awarded the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians’ (NAEMT) ‘Legislator of the Year Award,’ which he accepted at the association’s Annual “EMS On the Hill Day” with EMS professionals and health care advocates.  

Earlier this year, Senator Welch introduced the Emergency Medical Services Reimbursement for On-scene Care and Support (EMS ROCS) Act, bicameral legislation that ensures EMS providers are reimbursed for care provided on-scene, regardless of whether transportation to the hospital is required. The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and was introduced in the House by Rep. Becca Balint (VT-AL)

“EMS providers offer life-saving services to communities all across the country. But right now, the profession is struggling from lack of resources and staffing shortages, jeopardizing the availability of care. It’s an honor to accept this award and to hear from EMS providers and advocates here today to understand their needs and how we can best support them through this crucial time. Congress must continue to help EMS providers, and pass my EMS ROCS Act, so our communities can get the emergency care they need – when they need it most,” said Senator Welch

“Senator Welch has been an advocate for EMS practitioners for many years. His most recent bill, the Emergency Medical Services Reimbursement for On-scene Care and Support Act – or EMS ROCS – would direct the Medicare program to reimburse EMS providers when they render care on-scene. NAEMT is grateful for Senator Welch’s support and he is most deserving of the EMS Legislator of the Year Award,” said Susan Bailey, MSEM, NRP, NAEMT President

Photos courtesy of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians

Inflationary pressures, coupled with the increasing volume of services that are ineligible for reimbursement, pose a serious threat to EMS providers, particularly those serving rural and older communities. These challenges are forcing EMS providers to curtail service and, in some areas, shut down services entirely. In recent years, several EMS providers in rural Vermont have closed their doors due to mounting expenses, leaving local residents with fewer options for emergency services.  

Currently, Medicare does not reimburse Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers unless the patient is transported to a hospital. However, EMS providers regularly deliver vital services on-scene when responding to 911 calls. In rural communities, the demand for EMS services for medical emergencies continues to increase—especially for Medicare beneficiaries, who make up approximately 40% of patients treated by EMS. The EMS ROCS Act would provide Medicare reimbursement for care provided by EMS on-scene, when transportation to the hospital is not needed.    

Earlier this year, Senator Welch gathered rural EMS providers at White River Valley Ambulance in Bethel, Vermont to discuss the importance of passing the EMS ROCS Act to align Medicare payments for EMS in order to ensure providers can provide essential medical care to rural communities.  

Learn more about the EMS ROCS Act