The Washington Examiner has an article titled Study: Ambulance response times increased under Obamacare. The study, from the National Bureau of Economic Research, reports that ambulance response times increased 19% (or approximately 2 minutes) once the Affordable Care Act was in effect.
From the report summary:
This study contributes to the literature on supply-side adjustments to insurance expansions by examining the effect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on ambulance response times. Exploiting temporal and geographic variation in the implementation of the ACA as well as pre-treatment differences in uninsured rates, we estimate that the expansions of private and Medicaid coverage under the ACA combined to slow ambulance response times by an average of 19%. We conclude that, through extending coverage to individuals who, in its absence, would not have availed themselves of emergency medical services, the ACA added strain to emergency response systems.
The authors do note that providers could respond the the extra demand by increasing ambulances and personnel, but they fail to identify whether or not the reimbursements under the ACA would adequately support this type of expansion. The majority of ACA expanded coverage was in Medicaid, who’s reimbursement rate for ambulance transportation often fails at meeting the cost of providing the service. This has resulted in hardships for ambulance agencies across the nation, increased ambulance bills, and even a lawsuit against a state government for forcing ambulance agencies to operate at a loss in providing the service.
The authors recommendation of increasing ambulances and personnel without taking into account the cost of doing so or the reimbursement for the additional work is ignorant to say the least while continuing to place an inflated emphasis on the response time metric.