Shapiro Administration Dedicates $1M to Bolster Pennsylvania’s EMS Workforce

Emergency Services© MattGush / Getty Images / Canva

HARRISBURG, PA — In an effort to fortify Pennsylvania’s healthcare system, the Shapiro Administration has launched a $1 million tuition assistance program aimed at recruiting and retaining Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals. This initiative comes as part of a broader commitment to support the state’s EMS industry, which is vital in ensuring emergency healthcare accessibility for all Pennsylvanians.

Acting Secretary of the Department of Health Dr. Debra Bogen announced this ambitious program, highlighting the crucial role of EMS professionals. “These are the individuals who arrive on your doorstep 24/7 when emergencies occur,” said Bogen. “Their skills, training, and dedication are what make our healthcare system robust and reliable. We want to ensure that more Pennsylvanians can enter and stay in this critical profession.”

The tuition assistance program, administered by the Department of Health, draws funds from the Fireworks Tax Act. Over the next three years, $1 million annually will be allocated to help Pennsylvania residents who have obtained a state certification as an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), or Paramedic after July 1, 2023. These eligible individuals can receive reimbursement for a portion of their tuition fees.

Furthermore, licensed EMS agencies in Pennsylvania can also benefit from this program. They qualify for reimbursement of expenses related to recruitment and retention efforts, with up to $1,250 available per fiscal year.

This program builds upon the Shapiro Administration’s ongoing effort to support the state’s EMS sector. In the 2023-24 budget, they secured $20.7 million to increase mileage rates for ambulance services. This significant investment ensures that EMS workers and first responders are adequately compensated for their indispensable work.

Why is this important? Pennsylvania’s EMS agencies respond to nearly 24 million 911 calls each year, and a quarter of the state’s residents live in rural areas. Ensuring that these communities have access to prompt and professional emergency healthcare is a crucial part of maintaining public health and safety.

The tuition assistance program is more than just financial aid; it’s an investment in the state’s healthcare infrastructure and the people who keep it running. By easing the financial burden on EMS professionals and agencies, the Shapiro Administration is working to ensure that the state’s emergency healthcare system remains robust, responsive, and accessible to all.

For those interested in applying for tuition reimbursement or learning more about the program, further information is available on the Department of Health’s website. This initiative bolsters the administration’s effort to support those on the front lines of emergency healthcare, ensuring that every Pennsylvania resident can count on high-quality emergency care when they need it most.

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