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As EMS Assumes a More Diversified Role in Health Care Delivery, Ambulance Service Compliance Takes Center Stage

*Article Originally Published in Health Law Weekly
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In recent years, the emergency medical services (EMS) sector has assumed a more central role in health care delivery, including care in the home and, in some cases, emergency department visit prevention. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this critical EMS role has expanded to encompass a broader scope of licensure latitude for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics, and non-traditional roles such as the administration of testing and vaccinations in nursing homes and other settings.

The time is ripe for the EMS services sector to be more fully recognized for the essential role they can play on the continuum of care, with its combined emergency medical, transport, communications, and in-home service capabilities. For ambulance service providers, this value may translate into opportunities for expansion and diversification, investment, or sale.

Ambulance service providers are subject to numerous federal and state regulatory requirements. At the same time, enforcement agencies recently have placed intensive focus on both ambulance companies, and the providers that have potential referral relationships with them, in a spate of criminal and civil fraud actions. As a result, the compliance programs for ambulance service providers, and the health care entities that work with them, should incorporate EMS-specific compliance elements.

To capitalize on emerging strategic opportunities, ambulance service providers will need to demonstrate that they have implemented effective legal and regulatory compliance programs. Conversely, those considering an investment, venture, or acquisition in or with an ambulance service provider should ensure that due diligence adequately examines these compliance considerations.

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