COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will begin work to improve EMS services across Colorado and oversee a task force dedicated to evaluating how to reduce disparities in access to emergency services.  

Colorado is the only state in the country without centralized licensing and oversight of ground ambulance services, and SB22-225 aims to change that. The law allows CDPHE to set statewide standards for ground ambulance agencies, similar to the department’s current role in licensing air ambulances. The law also preserves the ability for local governments to control the services of ambulance agencies operating in their jurisdictions and to negotiate contracts with ground ambulance agencies. 

Statewide licensing of ground ambulance services through CDPHE will result in consistent protective standards and will ensure better Medicaid reimbursement rates for ground ambulance agencies, as it follows a regulatory model that meets federal Medicaid guidelines.

The law also establishes a 20-member task force to evaluate the emergency medical services and systems throughout our state. This group will equally represent rural and urban areas of Colorado and will include elected officials, EMS providers, physicians, and representatives of firefighting companies, hospitals, county and municipal governments.

The task force will issue reports and recommendations on consistent statewide standards for ground and air ambulance services, equitable access, staffing and retention, and sustainable funding.

“This new law will modernize Colorado’s emergency medical services, making them more responsive to patients, and more sustainable in rural communities, while assuring quality and accountability statewide. At the same time, local governments can still select and negotiate with the ambulance provider they prefer,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE. “I look forward to working closely with the new task force to determine how the department can reduce disparities in access to EMS care, and ensure reliable, efficient ambulance services for all Coloradans.” 

Governor Jared Polis signed the bill into law on June 1.