Congress Passes SIREN Act

On December 12, 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill (S. 3042) by a 386-47 vote in the House and 87 – 13 vote in the Senate. Included in the final Bill was language similar to the SIREN Act (S. 2830, H.R. 5429) to reauthorize the Rural EMS Grant program.

In an effort to ensure the funding would go to the most needy, small, and rural EMS providers, the language of the amendment and SIREN Act would change the eligibility to just governmental and non-profit EMS agencies. Therefore, small rural for-profit ambulance service providers would no longer be eligible to apply for grants – which haven’t been funded for over a decade. These grants would now provide funds up to $200,000 for training, equipment, and personnel retention in rural areas. The grants also require a 10% contribution by the grant recipient.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will issue a guidance with the details on how these grants will be administered. Since the program has been unfunded for so long, it is unclear at this time, how it will be rolled out. HRSA will most likely follow past protocol providing details through guidance including how to submit and deadlines. The AAA will be sure to share additional details as soon as they become available.

While the AAA had advocated that language be revised to ensure small rural for-profit providers would still be able to apply for grants, we are happy to see this program reauthorized. The AAA was concerned not to push too hard for any changes because the House-passed version of the Farm Bill did not include the SIREN Act provision and didn’t want to give lawmakers any reason not to include the provision in the final Farm Bill.

Special thanks to the IAFC and NAEMT, and other partner organizations for all of their work in getting this legislation passed. The AAA would also like to thank members Congress who advocated for the passage of the SIREN Act including Senators Durbin, Roberts and Stabenow.

Farm Bill, H.R. 5429, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Rural EMS Grant Program, S. 2830, S. 3042, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), SIREN Act