AMR Releases Statement on EMSA Contract


American Medical Response notifies Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) of contract termination.
(OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.) On September 29, 2020, American Medical Response (AMR) gave notice to the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) that it was terminating its contract and filing suit after EMSA unilaterally withheld $16 million owed to AMR for services provided during a four-month period earlier this year.

AMR notified EMSA that the termination would be effective as soon as possible without jeopardizing public safety, which AMR expected could be accomplished by January 30, 2021. Nearly one month after AMR gave the termination notice, members of the EMSA Board of Trustees voted on October 28, 2020, to end the already-canceled contract effective November 30, 2020. AMR had shown good faith in attempting to work collaboratively with EMSA to secure a smooth, safe transition for individuals working in the EMS system and the patients served.

EMSA Blocked AMR’s Solutions to Overcome Pandemic Impacts
After EMSA unilaterally withheld payment from AMR, EMSA raised issues about response time compliance and other aspects of AMR’s performance. Prior to the national pandemic and state of emergency declared by EMSA itself, AMR had achieved response time compliance to emergency calls in Oklahoma City and Tulsa 97% of the time. AMR offered innovative solutions for enhancing performance during the pandemic, including bringing in a strike team of actively working, nationally registered paramedics from other states for an immediate staffing infusion to replace Oklahoma-based paramedics who were called up by the National Guard or are isolating after testing positive or being exposed to COVID. The immediate infusion also would have added capacity to overcome the sharp increase in hospital bed delays occurring in Oklahoma.

EMSA’s chief executive officer and medical director initially refused AMR’s strike team solution to help Oklahomans, despite the fact that this is an approach used by the federal government in communities around the nation in times of disaster. AMR is FEMA’s prime emergency medical service response provider and, as such, has deployed paramedics, EMTs and other EMS professionals to New York, New Jersey, Texas and Louisiana in response to COVID-19 and hurricanes. AMR has also provided state response strike teams to California, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington in response to COVID-19, wildfires and hurricanes. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians and many states, including Oklahoma, have issued waivers to help ensure that hard-hit communities can bring in out-of-state resources to support local responses. In its national emergency response role, AMR and teams from its parent company screened 500,000 airport passengers at 13 airports, transported 350,000 COVID-19 or symptomatic patients, completed 62,000 patient missions in New York, New Jersey, Texas and Louisiana. During its numerous missions this year, the company deployed more than 4,000 paramedics and EMTs from its own workforce as well as from EMS partners around the country. Last week, AMR submitted a second strike team solution.

EMSA also refused AMR’s suggestion to temporarily adopt a new response model for low-acuity, non-life-threatening calls and to allow EMTs to work within the full scope of their licensure. While refusing to allow AMR to take action during the national public health crisis, EMSA itself continues operating under an emergency order; its business offices remain closed to patients needing help with billing-related matters and EMSA has canceled all educational demonstrations indefinitely.

AMR was able, independent of EMSA influence, to increase wages and provide sign-on, referral and relocation bonuses to boost recruitment and retention and to encourage healthy, existing staff to work overtime shifts.

AMR Looked into Administration Issue and Offered Reimbursement
AMR has also worked with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to resolve a clerical issue related to the state certification of a nationally certified EMT who previously worked for AMR. While AMR believes our continuing investigation may reveal that the former employee did maintain all proper certifications, AMR agreed to cover any reimbursement EMSA might have to make to payers based on the administrative issue.

AMR Trying to Work Collaboratively for Smooth, Safe Transition
AMR proactively reached out to EMSA once it became aware of EMSA’s decision to take over service in one month’s time. AMR disagrees with EMSA’s conclusions about AMR’s alleged performance breaches and work to cure the alleged defaults. However, AMR will continue attempts to collaborate with EMSA to carry out a smooth, safe transition.

AMR Looks Forward to Clarity from Court and Remittance of Withheld Funds
AMR welcomes legal relief and has asked that the $16 million unilaterally taken by EMSA be placed in the control of the Court until the lawsuit is resolved. AMR looks forward to getting clarity from the Court regarding EMSA’s decision not to pay AMR for months of service already provided in the midst of the pandemic.