Significantly fewer ambulance companies exist in New Jersey today than a year ago. Estimates of the amount of closures range from 25 to 50 firms---with more likely closing in the future.
Some have closed their doors quickly without any advanced notice, leaving patients and their families in a dangerous limbo. This may seem strange, because health care is one of the fastest growing industries in the nation. So what’s causing the sudden closure of so many medical transportation providers here in the Garden State?
The answer has to do with the implementation of new Medicare regulations aimed at cracking down on excessive and fraudulent billing practices. Changes went into effect in December 2014 after an audit determined that Medicare billing for ambulance services was unusually high in three particular states: South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Essentially, many providers were billing Medicare for transporting patients to dialysis and other treatments on a stretcher in an ambulance when other, less costly methods could have been used. The reason for this is that Medicare pays for non-emergency transportation, but only if the patient cannot walk and cannot be transported in a wheelchair.
As a result, providers now must obtain authorization of medical necessity from Medicare before they render services, as opposed to after. This change requires ambulance companies to manage paperwork and medical records in an extremely efficient and detail-oriented manner. If providers aren’t proficient in obtaining these authorizations, they simply can’t stay afloat.
As the industry evolves, On Time Transport is fully committed to complying with all new regulations. We have full-time authorization nurses in-house, and take this aspect of our business very seriously. We have served NJ for 25 years and look forward to another 25.
If you are responsible for scheduling transportation in a nursing home, hospital system, or any other healthcare facility, feel free to contact us to schedule a complimentary medical transportation compliance seminar. It doesn't take long, but will answer many of your questions regarding this new change with Medicare.
Interested in arranging medical transportation in New Jersey for yourself or a loved one? Book a trip with us using our online scheduling form.