Texas State Representative Four Price (R-Amarillo) filed HB 1477, which would restore local project grant (LPG) funding for Texas EMS agencies and would create the Emergency Medical Services Scholarship Program for rural EMS agencies.
“Due to rural hospital closures and other factors, a community’s EMS agency represents the only access to health care for many rural Texans,” Jonathan Sell, the Texas EMS Alliance’s president and Booker EMS’s director, said. “As our technology and understanding of emergency medicine continues to grow, so do the educational requirements and expectations for our EMS personnel. Rural providers, in particular, need additional access and support for this education, as they often have little to no emergency health care support in their communities. Further, rural communities have traditionally struggled to achieve the necessary requirements for paramedic programs, which has led to a paramedic shortage in the communities where they are needed the most. HB 1477 represents an important tool for addressing this rural shortage by supporting educational opportunities for EMS professionals in rural areas.”
HB 1477 would create the Emergency Medical Services Shortage Program, which would direct the state of Texas to provide financial assistance to EMS personnel in rural areas for tuition and other applicable fees for eligible coursework.
In addition, HB 1477 would restore LPGs, which would be utilized by both urban and rural EMS agencies for equipment and training.
“Restoring the local project grants to stretch local EMS dollars further through matching funds is probably the single most important item that the state of Texas can do to support the EMS infrastructure in the 86th Session,” Sell said. “EMS costs continue to rise as our industry continues to focus on patient safety and increased medical capabilities for our patients. Restoring LPG funding will be a great shot in the arm for EMS across the state.”
The Texas EMS Alliance is working with lawmakers to establish funding for HB 1477 in the appropriations process.
HB 1477 builds on HB 1407 from the 2017 Texas Legislature, which created the framework for a distance-learning program for rural paramedics.