State health office drops push to let South Dakota hospitals provide their own ground ambulance services
Proposed rule killed after meeting heavy opposition from providers, local governments
PIERRE – A push to give South Dakota’s largest healthcare systems the ability to conduct non-emergency transfers of patients between medical facilities has been abandoned by the state’s Department of Health.
And it’s a direct result of heavy opposition from ground ambulance providers across the state that stood to lose revenue should the proposed rule change have been adopted.
Right now in South Dakota, only ground ambulance providers can also transfer patients between medical facilities like hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities – and airports. DOH, however, wanted to open that up to also allow ground transports to be conducted by organizations that have traditionally operated state-certified air ambulances. And that would have meant the likes of Avera Health, Sanford Health and Monument Health could transfer their own patients, if the new rule was adopted.
The proposed rule change had the support of those healthcare agencies, as well as the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, which contends allowing hospitals to transport their own patients would improve the healthcare experience for South Dakotans. Meanwhile, representatives with ground ambulance companies, officials with local governments that hire them and the South Dakota Municipal League say opening up ground transports to air ambulance providers would have brought major disruptions to South Dakota emergency response system.
Officials with SDAHO, representing hospitals, health systems and post-acute care providers, said the proposed change would have resulted in hospital systems providing safer options for transport during inclement weather, and better respond to the needs of patients with urgent needs for transportation between facilities without having to wait for a ground ambulance provider to become available.
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