John Oliver Can’t Believe EMS Isn’t an Essential Service inOver Half the Country

John Oliver was blown away this week by some disturbing facts about the lack of federal oversight in how emergency medical services are funded and run.

Oliver dedicated his August 1 episode of “Last Week Tonight” to discussing why ambulance rides and emergency medical treatment are so expensive. In a nutshell, Oliver said it’s Ronald Reagan’s fault — the ’80s Republican president “eliminated direct federal funding and oversight” and that led to “shifting responsibility to the states” which, well, haven’t done great.

Oliver said he was shocked to learn that over half the country doesn’t consider EMS an essential service, according to the National Association of State EMS Officials. This means those working in and running emergency medical services providers have a much harder time accessing state funding and other resources needed to keep themselves open.

“Unlike other first responders, in 39 states EMS is not considered an essential service, meaning local governments don’t have to provide it to their citizens, which means EMS has much less access to federal funding,” Oliver said, bewildered.

He then pointed out that a quick search on crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe will bring up a number of EMS companies trying to raise funds to upgrade or buy equipment to stay in business, the same way people seeking medical care often try to crowdfund their medical bills after treatment…

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