The Fairness in Ambulance Reimbursement Act
On July 11, 2014, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule for the 2015 Medicare Fee Schedule (PFS) that adjusted ZIP code classifications for ground ambulance reimbursement based on 2010 data. The proposed rule initially indicated that only 122 ZIP codes would be reclassified from rural to urban in 2015. However, the final PFS rule, which was published on November 13, 2014, re-designated 3000 ZIP codes from rural to urban. Thanks to work by the AAA’s legislative team, champions on Capitol Hill, members and other organizations, on December 16, 2014, CMS once again revised the ZIP codes that would be adjusted from rural to urban to 1,599.
CMS’s error, which contributed to the drastic changes from the proposed rule in July to the final rule in December, effectively denied interested parties the opportunities to participate in the notice and comment process and did not give ambulance service providers enough time to process and adjust for their losses.
The Fairness in Ambulance Reimbursement Act of 2015
The Fairness in Ambulance Reimbursement Act of 2015 (H.R. 817) would delay implementation of the rural to urban ZIP code reclassification until January 1, 2016, which would provide ambulance services with the necessary time to evaluate and respond to recent changes made by CMS. This legislation is critical to ensure that ambulance services have needed funding and that Medicare beneficiaries continue to have access to high quality medical care as they are transported to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
What You Can Do to Help
Unlike the permanent Medicare relief bill, the changes in zip codes to do not affect every ambulance service in the country. That being said, we invite AAA members, organizations, and individuals to support our efforts to delay implementation of the zip code reclassification. Cosponsors and support for the bill are still needed. Please reach out to your members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor and support this important piece of legislation. If this issue will affect you and your service, raise the issue with your legislators during your ambulance ride-along