Congress Passes 5 Year Extension of Medicare Add-Ons
On February 9, 2018 the Congress passed the 5 year extension of the Medicare ambulance add-ons. The extension was part of the two-year budget deal reached by congressional leaders. The Bipartisan Budget Act was signed into law by President Trump shortly after passage.
The ambulance provisions in the Bill include the following:
- 5 year extension of the ambulance Medicare add-ons through December 31, 2022, retroactive to January 1, 2018.
- AAA’s preferred method of Cost data collection that provides flexibility to the Secretary of HHS in developing the system. Consultation with the industry is required so that it strikes the appropriate balance between obtaining meaningful data while not overly burdening or onerously penalizing the ambulance services.
- The penalty for failing to report required data would be a reduction in payment up to 10% for the year following the year in which the data should have been submitted. AAA objected to the house proposed penalty of up to a year of Medicare payments clawback or withholding of payments. A clause is included to wave the penalty in cases of hardship.
- A “pay-for” for the 5-year extension of the add-ons with a 13% cut to non-emergent dialysis transports – the AAA had objected to the offset and pushed for a cut targeted to just those entities which abuse the dialysis transport benefit. We were successful in reducing the initial cut from 22% to 13%. The AAA is actively working on other pay-for options that would replace the 13% cut with something targeting dialysis fraud and abuse.
We will keep you posted of new developments. Thank you for your continued support of the American Ambulance Association.
The American Ambulance Association invites you to become involved with our efforts on Capitol Hill. It is thanks to our member’s contributions, both time and resources, that we are able to have such a strong influence with federal legislators. The efforts of the AAA’s legislative team and our members have given our industry nearly $2 billion in desperately needed Medicare relief over the last 12 years. Become a member today and join this important work.
Below, you will find a list of several of the ambulance industry’s and the AAA’s legislative priorities for 2018. Each priority goes over the current climate, the priority itself and provides valuable resources to help you join our efforts.
AAA Advocacy Priorities
Call To Action: Ambulance Add-Ons Update & Impact of Partial Government Shutdown Congress is heading toward a possible partial shutdown of the federal government without taking action on our expired Medicare add-on payments. While the AAA and other industry stakeholders have pressed hard for Congress to immediately pass a five-year extension of the ambulance add-ons, our message is not being heard loud enough amongst all the other noise. We need you to contact your members of Congress today in support of extending the 2% urban, 3% rural and 22.6% super rural increases! Last night, the House of Representatives mostly along party lines passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through February 16. The fate of the bill in the Senate is uncertain. If Congress does not pass by midnight tonight a measure extending funding for the federal government, there will be a partial government shutdown. The AAA had pushed for Congress to attach a Medicare provider extender package including a five-year extension of the ambulance add-ons to the Continuing Resolution. Since the extender package was not included in the Resolution, we are pressing Congress to consider a separate extenders only package including the five-year ambulance extension or attach (more…)
AAA Spearheads Medicare Provider Letter Supporting Add-ons Extension The AAA spearheaded a letter by a coalition of Medicare providers urging congressional leaders to pass a Medicare provider extender package by January 19. This is part of the AAA’s ongoing efforts to ensure that the Medicare ambulance add-ons are extended as soon as possible. Many thanks to John Jonas and the team at Akin Gump for taking the lead on reaching out to other Medicare provider organizations. The AAA was able to secure the support of twenty organizations on the letter and the letter has been to congressional leaders as well as all congressional offices. The organizations that singed on to the letter are: American Ambulance Association (AAA) American Health Care Association (AHCA) American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA) American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Association of Critical Care Transport (ACCT) Brain Injury Association of America Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Emergency Department Practice Management Association Falling Forward Foundation Focus on Therapeutic Outcomes, Inc. (FOTO) National Association for Home Care & Hospice National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL) National Association of Emergency Medical Service Physicians National Center for Assisted Living National Rural Health Association (NRHA) (more…)
While the Congress succeeded in passing the Republican tax bill and keeping the federal government open with a short-term continuing resolution that included a temporary extension for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), it did not act upon the several Medicare extenders that expire on December 31, 2017. This extenders package includes the ambulance add-ons for urban, rural, and super-rural areas, as well as a moratorium on therapy caps, extenders for hospitals, and several other extenders important to other Medicare providers. Despite the fact that the Congress left town, there is still strong bipartisan support for reinstating these extenders – including the ambulance extenders – early in January 2018. The most likely time frame will be for the extenders to be added to the next government funding legislation, which must be passed by January 19. First, do not panic. As you may have already heard, CMS is telling providers and suppliers that the add-ons will expire at the end of the month. Technically that is true. The Agency is simply stating the obvious; but no one should imply from such statements that the Congress will not fix them or not make them retroactive. Historically, CMS has followed this pattern of indicating the add-ons have expired (more…)
Take Action for Permanent Medicare Ambulance Relief Ask your Senators and Representatives to Support Medicare Ambulance Relief! The temporary Medicare ambulance increases of 2% urban, 3% rural and 22.6% to the base rate in super rural areas are scheduled to expire on December 31 of this year. That is just one month away! Please write your members of Congress today in support of a 5-year extension of the increases. Writing to your members of Congress only takes 2 clicks, follow these simple steps: 1. Enter contact information below (required by Congressional offices) and click “Submit” 2. On the next page you’ll see the letter to your Representative (Message 1) and the letter(s) to your Senators (Message 2) – click “Submit Messages” Feel free to personalize your letter(s) before submitting them. Over the past 15 years, the AAA has lead efforts on Capitol Hill to establish the increases and ensure they do not expire. Thanks to the work of our champions and supporters on Capitol Hill, there are provisions in both the House and Senate for a five-year extension of the Medicare ambulance increases. However, passage of these provisions is in no way certain. Your members of Congress need to hear that the (more…)
On Friday, President Trump signed H.R. 304, the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017, into law. H.R. 304 also known as the DEA Standing Orders Bill is an issue that the AAA has been working on closely for over a year. This new law will “improve the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration process for emergency medical services (EMS) agencies, and clarify that EMS professionals are permitted to administer controlled substances pursuant to standing or verbal orders when certain conditions are met.” On the passage of H.R. 304, AAA President Mark Postma stated: “the enactment of H.R. 304 ensures that paramedics, EMTs and other emergency medical professionals may continue to administer vital and often life-saving medications to patients. The AAA applauds Congressmen Hudson and Butterfield and Senators Cassidy and Bennet for their successful efforts on this critical issue.” Special thanks to Rep. Hudson (R-NC-08) for authoring the Bill, and to Rep. Butterfield (D-NC-01), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) for sponsoring this legislation. Additional thanks to Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR-2) for his continued support. H.R. 304 will help to ensure that ambulance service providers are able to continue providing life saving services throughout the country. The AAA would (more…)
Senate Committee Releases Draft Package with 5-year Ambulance Extender The Senate Finance Committee has released a discussion draft of its Medicare provider extender package. A five-year extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance add-ons and a modified version of the cost data collection provision from the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act (S. 967) are included in the package. The ambulance provisions being part of the package marks significant progress in the Senate toward a long-term extension of the add-ons and a model cost data collection system. A five-year extension of the 2% urban and 3% increases and the super rural bonus payment would provide approximately $1 billion in desperately needed Medicare relief for our industry. Having the increases in place for five years would give ambulance service suppliers and providers greater funding stability and help with long-term budgeting. There are now proposals in both the House and Senate with Committee backing which reflect a five-year extension of the add-ons. The five-year extension reflects the efforts of our champions in the Senate on S. 967. The cost data collection system is also from S. 967 with modifications. Instead of a random sampling of ambulance service providers and suppliers a (more…)