Updated: Oct 3
I have exciting news to share, on July 5th, Governor Tony Evers signed the biennial Wisconsin State Budget confirming increases in funding across the state. In particular there are a few items I’d like to address here:
First, a great win and start towards direct EMS funding is the large increase and changes to the Funding Assistance Program (FAP) for EMS. This program was enacted in 1989 as the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Funding Assistance Program (FAP) for transport EMS departments. This program has generally had around $2.2 million dollars annually available only to transport EMS departments.
The new changes include adding EMR / non-transport departments as eligible recipients of the Funding Assistance Program (FAP) with a similar base amount as transport departments. With EMR departments lacking the same funding sources that transport departments have, this is a huge win to help all EMR departments across the state receive reliable funding from the state and provide them with funding they can depend on annually. Additionally, the usage of FAP funds will be expanded to include disposable supplies.
Lastly, regarding the Funding Assistance Program, the funding has been increased from $2.2 million to $25 million annually. We see this as a big win for EMS. I understand that for some departments this isn’t a lot of money, but for some of our smallest EMR departments, an extra (estimated) $20,000 to $30,000 annually is going to make a difference in supplies, equipment, reimbursements, etc. Again, this is just the start, we hope to focus on increasing this amount through every biennial state budget period moving forward.
Next item: There was an increase in shared revenue to municipalities across Wisconsin, with a roughly $275 million increase in shared revenue. This increase is to address many of the local challenges faced due to lack of funding. Although we were hoping and pushing for more, this is a great start in providing more municipal based funding to help public safety as a whole. This increased shared revenue goes to the municipality and then the municipality chooses how they allocate it on a local level.
However, through our collective efforts here at WEMSA with state representatives, senators, and supporters, we managed to include a Maintenance of Effort provision into this shared revenue increase to help make sure some of the shared revenue increase gets used on EMS or that funding for EMS does not get reallocated elsewhere.
Beginning on July 1, 2024, the act requires counties and municipalities to provide
“maintenance of effort” certifications to DOR, with a penalty of a 15 percent reduction in a municipality’s shared revenue for failing to do so.
These Maintenance of Effort (MOE) provisions include the following:
The municipality needs to certify that any 2 of the following have been maintained at a level at least equivalent to the previous year:
Department Budget/Funding a. The political subdivision's expenditures, not including capital expenditures or expenditures of grant moneys received from the state or federal government, for fire protective and emergency medical services.
Employment/FTEs b. The number of full-time equivalent fire fighters and emergency medical services personnel employed by or assigned to the political subdivision, not including fire fighters and emergency medical services personnel whose positions are funded by grants received from the state or federal government. For volunteer fire and emergency medical services, those volunteer fire fighters and emergency medical services personnel who responded to at least 40 percent of calls to which volunteer fire protective or emergency medical services responded may be counted as full-time equivalent volunteer fire fighters and emergency medical services personnel under this subd. 2. b. The person in charge of providing fire protective and emergency medical services for the political subdivision may use any reasonable method of estimating the average number of full-time equivalent fire fighters and emergency medical services personnel employed by or assigned to the political subdivision for the year, but may consider only positions that are actually filled.
Level of Licensure c. The level of training of and maintenance of licensure for fire fighters and emergency medical services personnel providing fire protective and emergency medical services within the political subdivision.
Response Times d. Response times for fire protective and emergency medical services throughout the political subdivision, adjusted for the location of calls for service.
In addition to this funding, additional policy changes were enacted:
Non-Emergent Interfacility Transport Staffing: If the ambulance is engaged in a non-emergent interfacility transport, one emergency medical technician who is in the patient compartment during transport of the patient and one individual who has a certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, through a course approved by the department.
NREMT Requirement Removal for EMRs: The department [DHS] may not require an applicant for certification as an emergency medical responder to register with or take the examination of the national registry of emergency medical technicians. An ambulance service provider or another emergency medical services program may require an emergency medical responder to register with or take the examination of the national registry of emergency medical technicians as a condition of being employed by or volunteering with the provider or program.
Individual departments can still choose to require their staff to have an NREMT license if they so choose.
Non-Compete / Restrictions on Employment/ Volunteerism: Exclusive arrangements prohibited. An ambulance service provider or emergency medical services program may not prohibit an emergency medical responder or emergency medical services practitioner who is employed by or volunteering with the ambulance service provider or emergency medical services program from being employed by or volunteering with another ambulance service provider or emergency medical services program.
We’d like to thank Governor Tony Evers, State Senator Mary Felzkowski, Senator Howard Marklein, Representative Tony Kurtz, and many others who helped with the funding measures in place. Representative Tony Kurtz stated “Hopefully these additional funding streams for Fire and EMS across the state will help ensure our first responders have the resources they need. It might not address all of the issues they’ve been facing, but it’s a big step in the right direction!”.
We agree that this is a step in the right direction for EMS. This is just the beginning of our advocacy efforts. We will continue this legislative session to work on challenges with revenue and reimbursements, creating resources, and getting EMS on the same level as our counterparts in public safety.
CEO/ Executive Director
Wisconsin EMS Association