Medicare spending for ambulance services to rise by $112 million in 2006

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services raised the inflation factor for ambulance services by 2.5% for calendar year 2006.

The annual inflation update, which is based on a formula using the consumer price index for the previous year, is estimated to raise Medicare spending by $112 million next year.

Medicare Part B covers and pays for ambulance services if other means of transportation are inadvisable for the beneficiary's medical condition, according to a CMS notice in the Federal Register.

Medicare also pays for transportation to the nearest facility only if needed services are not available locally. It pays for transportation from one hospital to another, to the beneficiary's home or to an extended-care facility.

The complete CMS notice in the Federal Register is available at