State waives ambulance provider rules; Collier transport company benefits

Author: News Service Florida
Photo via KIRO Seattle.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has waived rules about ambulance services after being asked to do so by a libertarian-leaning legal organization in April. State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees on Sunday issued an emergency order temporarily suspending a law and related rules that require emergency medical transportation providers to obtain what is called a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” from counties to offer services. At a minimum, the move benefits Just Like Family Concierge Medical Transport in Collier County.

The company, which operates as Brewster Ambulance Service, started offering emergency transportation services to hospitals in Lee County on Monday after the order was issued, Brad Cohen, the company’s director of operations, told The News Service of Florida.

But no hospital had taken it up on its services as of Wednesday morning, Cohen said. Brewster Ambulance Service tried to expand into neighboring Lee County last year, but its expansion efforts were thwarted when local officials refused to approve the certificate of public convenience and necessity, saying there wasn’t a need for additional providers.

Anastasia Bowen, an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, sent a letter to DeSantis on April 16 asking that his administration immediately waive the requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that the restrictions “impede dynamic healthcare responses in our fast-changing and life-threatening crisis.” Rivkees’ order will expire when DeSantis’ executive order declaring a state of emergency expires.

Cohen, though, said Brewster Ambulance Service wants to remain in Lee County and plans on submitting another application to county officials later this year. In addition to waiving the certificate of public convenience and necessity requirements, Rivkees’ order also gives a dozen emergency medical transportation providers an extra month to get relicensed. Providers that were required to be relicensed prior to July 31 will have until Aug. 31 under the order.

A News Service review of a weekly health department report shows that 12 providers will benefit from the extension, including two whose licenses expired before the executive order was issued: the City of Oldsmar in Pinellas County and Liberty Ambulance Service in Jacksonville. Their licenses expired May 30 and May 23, respectively. As surgeon general, Rivkees is secretary of the Florida Department of Health.

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