President’s Perspective October 2018

Dear Fellow AAA Members,

Aarron Reinert
President
American Ambulance Association

Since I assumed the office of president last month at our Annual Conference, I have been deeply moved by the selfless actions of ambulance services across the nation as they responded to natural disasters. As always, EMS answered the call to help with humanity, efficiency, and professionalism. My thoughts are with those impacted by the recent storms as well as the thousands of EMTs and Paramedics currently helping with Hurricane Michael recovery.

Annual Conference & Trade Show

Thanks to each of you who attended, exhibited at, or sponsored this year’s impressive Annual Conference & Trade Show. We appreciate your support and participation—it could not have been such a success without you. Once again, congratulations to our AMBY and AAA award winners! I would also like to welcome our new board members and thank those who continue to serve. At the conference, I took a few minutes to share my thoughts about the future of our association. If you missed it, you can catch up via video or essay on the AAA site.

We can’t wait to see you in Nashville next November 4-6, 2019! Please check back at www.annual.ambulance.org early next year for more attendee information.

Opioids

The AAA continues to press policy initiatives with Congress and the Administration that are important to our members. The AAA is pleased to report that language we supported on grant funding for opioid protection training for first responders has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate and is now headed to the President’s desk. The Senate passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act with a bipartisan vote of 98-1 in the last necessary needed action before being signed into law by the President. The impact of this legislation on the ambulance industry includes providing resources and training so that first responders and other key community sectors, including emergency medical services agencies, can appropriately protect themselves from exposure to drugs such as fentanyl, carfentanil and other dangerous licit and illicit drugs. The legislation also allows the Department of Labor to award grants to states that have been heavily impacted by the opioid crisis to assist local workforce boards and local partnerships in closing the gaps in the workforce for mental health care and substance use disorder. Silagra ED pill http://valleyofthesunpharmacy.com/silagra/

Dialysis

The AAA is also working on legislation that would restructure the additional cuts dialysis transport reimbursement that went into effect on October 1, 2018. Congress included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 an offset to go along with the extension of the add-ons that will cut reimbursement for BLS nonemergency transports to and from dialysis centers by an additional 13%. This will be on top of the existing 10% reduction. The NEATSA Act (H.R.6269) by Congressman LaHood (R-IL) and Congresswoman Sewell (D-AL) would restructure the offset so that a majority of the additional reduction would be focused on those ambulance service agencies in which 50% or more of their volume are repetitive BLS nonemergency transports. In the Senate, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) had previously agreed to drop a companion Bill. Thanks to the help of the AAA’s members in Alabama, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) just agreed to co-sponsor this legislation with Senator Cassidy. The AAA will announce the Senate Bill number as soon as it is introduced.

Veterans Affairs

The AAA has also been working on improving the timely reimbursement of emergency ambulance services by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Currently, the VA is the only major payer that does not follow the prudent layperson standard. This happens despite this standard being included in their own regulations regarding reimbursement for emergency care for veterans.

To help address this problem, Congressman Mike Coffman (CO-06) introduced H.R. 1445 the Veterans Reimbursement for Emergency Ambulance Services Act (VREASA). VREASA would clarify the prudent layperson standard and should hopefully correct the issue of improperly denied claims or delays in reimbursement.

The AAA continues to work closely with Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) to get a similar Bill introduced in the Senate during the next Congress. The AAA and representatives from Maine also met with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and her staff who helped include some critical language related to this issue in the Senate’s FY2019 MilCon-VA Appropriations Bill (S. 3024). The language can be found in the Senate’s Committee Report on that Bill. This is a crucial step in the right direction to ensure that our veterans receive the highest quality care and that ambulance service providers are adequately reimbursed in a timely manner.

The AAA’s data analyst estimates that since ambulance services are already covered services that there should be no score (cost) for this Bill. Additionally, if the Congressional Budget Office were to account for those claims that the VA is improperly denying, the estimated cost would be $270 million over ten years.

Cost Data Collection

The continues to work closely with Congress and the CMS on the creation and implementation of the new cost collection system for ambulance services. The AAA spent the last four years thinking about how CMS should collect data from ambulance service suppliers and providers, and how we can assist in helping services prepare and respond to the cost data survey. We’re developing material and resources to help ambulance service suppliers and providers prepare for being selected to provide their cost data. Though many of the finer specifics of the framework and data elements are still to be confirmed by CMS, the AAA has an in-depth and insider understanding of the anticipated process and elements.

For information on the AAA resources, please access the ambulance cost data collection webpage at www.ambulancereports.org. The AAA will announce new developments in the cost collection system via email. Although the possibility of your organization being selected to provide data is still a couple of years away, it’s important that you start preparing now.

At the AAA’s Annual Conference & Tradeshow last month in Las Vegas, CMS, through its contractor the RAND Corporation, convened a focus group where they selected several AAA members to talk directly with the contractor. The discussion centered around characteristics of ambulance services that matter for determining costs. The group also talked about how data is currently captured at the state and local levels, as well as how data is tracked within ambulance services. There was also a lot of discussion about the importance of standardizing data elements and not relying upon different state or local definitions, which could confound the data and make it impossible to compare costs across states. CMS is now reaching out to others in the industry for input. If you receive an email or a phone call from RAND Corporation, please respond. If you have questions about, or would like assistance with this project, please contact Tristan North at tnorth@ambulance.org.

SIREN Act

Lastly, the AAA is the working to ensure that the SIREN Act (S. 2830H.R. 5429) which would reauthorize the Rural EMS Grant program and makes all provider types eligible to apply for these grants.

Membership Renewal Time

Membership is the fuel that powers our advocacy engine and enables us to offer the innovative benefits your service has come to rely on. If you have already renewed, please accept our most sincere thanks for your continued support. If you have not yet submitted payment for this year’s membership, I encourage you to renew online or reach out to staff at info@ambulance.org for assistance. AAA needs your support through membership to continue our industry-advancing work.

Thank you for entrusting me to serve as the president of your association. It is my pleasure to lead such a talented cadre of dedicated healthcare professionals. I wish you a happy Halloween and a wonderful holiday season.

Aarron Reinert
President
American Ambulance Association

 

 

 

 

Board of Directors, Lakes Region EMS, MN, President's Perspective Column