Minimum wage hike could hurt EMS budgets

Harrisburg

An increase to Pennsylvania’s minimum wage could worsen problems for financially strapped emergency service providers.

Gov. Tom Wolf this week proposed that state lawmakers raise the wage to $12 an hour on July 1 and 50 cents each year until reaching $15 an hour in 2025.

Susquehanna Township EMS Chief Matthew Baily says it’s a good goal to increase wages, but state funding for EMS hasn’t been changed since 1985 — and they’ll lose funding in June.

“Our concern is we don’t see the reimbursement models changing fast enough to meet minimum wage of $15,” Baily said.

Other states are raising the minimum wage. In New Jersey, legislators on Thursday passed a bill to raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2024.

“This wouldn’t affect our paramedics. Our paramedics make more, obviously than $15 an hour, but this would affect our EMTs, and we would love to continually pay our EMTs higher and higher wages each year if reimbursement models were adjusted to allow us to do that,” Baily said.

Baily says a minimum wage increase would have the biggest impact on rural agencies.

“A lower call volume and lower reimbursement rates – they certainly will not be able to afford these things without significant community assistance,” he said.

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