News release

Province Reducing Ambulance Fees

NOTE: A social media release with hi-res, downloadable photos, video and audio clips will be available later today, May 14, at http://gov.ns.ca/news/smr/2012-05-14-Ambulance-Fees/ .

Beginning July 1, Nova Scotians living in licensed long-term care facilities or with reduced mobility will benefit from a reduction in ambulance fees announced today, May 14, by Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald.

People with low incomes will also be eligible for lower ambulance fees, beginning Sept. 1.

"Lower, fairer ambulance fees for seniors and low-income families was the right thing to do," said Ms. MacDonald. "The province is making health care more affordable for the most vulnerable citizens."

This change fulfills a commitment of government's Better Care Sooner plan.

The fee to transport nursing home and residential care facility residents to hospital will be reduced to $50, from $134.52. The fee for those unable to travel by conventional vehicle, and need an ambulance to get to medically necessary appointments, will be reduced to $100, from $168.14.

The Department of Health and Wellness is also establishing a financial hardship appeal process for Nova Scotians with lower incomes. It will allow people within a set income range to submit financial details to waive ambulance fees. The program will go into effect Sept. 1. More details will be available in August.

Bill VanGorder, past president of Canadian Association of Retired Persons, said the fee reduction will give more peace of mind.

"Some seniors may hesitate to call an ambulance because they're concerned about the cost. They worry about their financial security," he said. "Today's announcement gives seniors a better understanding of ambulance fees and the assurance that calling 911 when dealing with a health emergency is the best decision."

"Many of our residents have limited income and continue to have pressure to stretch their resources," said Josie Ryan, corporate director, in care living, Northwood at the Harbour. "On occasion, residents have expressed financial concern when requiring transfer to hospital or medical appointments because of the associated costs of the ambulance.

"These new fees will help alleviate some of their worries at a time when they are feeling very vulnerable."

Most Nova Scotians with a valid health card pay $134.52 for emergency transport to a hospital.

Through the Better Care Sooner plan, extended care paramedics are working in some nursing homes, allowing seniors to be treated there instead of having to go to the emergency room.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Beginning July 1, some Nova Scotians will pay less for ambulance service.

People living in licensed long-term care facilities and those with reduced mobility will benefit first from the reduction.

The Department of Health and Wellness is also establishing a Financial Hardship appeal process for lower income Nova Scotians. The program will go into effect September 1st. More details will be announced in August.

Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald says the fees are being reduced for those most in need.

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Media Contact:

Nicole Brooks
Health and Wellness 902-424-2608 E-mail: