SB 516, by Senators Bean and Garcia, would limit reimbursement for emergency medical services (EMS) and potentially reduce revenues to EMS providers throughout the state, including county EMS/ambulance services.  Under current law, county governments must ensure that emergency medical services are available, and most of the state is in fact served by publicly operated EMS systems.  While managed care organizations are required to pay for out-of-network ambulance treatment and transport, this does not apply to other private insurers.  Thus, third party payments for out-of-network EMS transport are frequently far below the actual cost of providing ambulance service.  In certain cases, ambulance providers are permitted to “balance bill” the patient to recover costs in excess of what is reimbursed by insurance.  This practice is also employed by other types emergency medical providers, including physicians and hospitals.  SB 516 would prohibit this practice altogether, which will likely force many county EMS systems to rely more heavily on taxpayer subsidies to maintain adequate levels of service in the communities they serve.  SB 516 has not yet been referred to committees, and there is currently no House companion bill.  For more information, contact Susan Harbin.