That Special Time of Year (President’s Perspective)

That time of the year is rapidly approaching… no, not the elections, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, but the American Ambulance Association Annual Meeting—November 7 through 9. Last year, our Annual Conference was a huge success, with a buzz in and around the meeting. That buzz was the result of energy that our members took away from each and every part of the meeting, from our keynote speakers, exhibit hall vendors, interactive educational sessions, and our newly re-launched AMBY awards. I want to extend an invitation to our entire membership to attend this fantastic event. The take away information from the educational sessions will assist you in operating your business back at home. The Committee Meetings that occur at the AAA meeting are a valuable opportunity to hear about a wide array of issues in our industry, but even more importantly, offer the opportunity for you to provide your valued input on strategies for our association. If those benefits are not enough, I feel the most important benefit is the networking that occurs. Before, during, and after the sessions, you will be able to share and learn from best practices from fellow industry leaders from Coast to Coast. I hope you are (more…)

Submit Comments on Proposed Rule to CY2016 Fee Schedule Changes

  On July 8, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a copy of its proposed rule for changes to the Medicare ambulance fee schedule for 2016.  The AAA has drafted a comment letter requesting that CMS make several modifications to improve the methodology and data used for determining urban and rural areas under the fee schedule.  We urge all AAA members to use our letter as a template to submit a similar comment letter to CMS. Here is how to submit a comment letter. 1) Download the draft template of the AAA comment letter. 2) Modify the letter in the highlighted areas to customize it to your organization. 3) Submit the comment letter by going to the Regulations.gov submissions webpage for the proposed rule at http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=CMS-2015-0081-0002 If you have any questions about submitting a comment letter, please contact AAA Senior Vice President Tristan North at tnorth@ambulance.org...

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Ask Your Members of Congress to Cosponsor Permanent Medicare Relief Legislation

Yesterday morning, Congressmen Walden, Welch, Nunes and Neal sent a Dear Colleague to their fellow members of the House of Representatives asking them to cosponsor the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act of 2015 (S. 377, H.R. 745). This bill will make the current temporary ambulance add-on payments permanent for all ambulance services. Even with our recent victory of a temporary 33-month extension of crucial Medicare ambulance relief, our Champions on Capitol Hill realize the importance of receiving permanent Medicare relief. They, like every ambulance service across the country, understand that a permanent solution is necessary to provide quality health care to individuals and our communities both today and tomorrow. The AAA has been working tirelessly to help advance this critical legislation. Now, more than ever, it is important that all members of the AAA contact their members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor both S. 377 and H.R. 745. Coupled with the recent Dear Colleague sent by our Champions on Capitol Hill, your individual contact with your representatives will be a powerful tool in helping to push for permanent Medicare ambulance relief. Every letter, phone call, and meeting will help us to achieve this important milestone (more…)

Ask Your Members of Congress to Cosponsor Permanent Medicare Relief Legislation

Yesterday morning, Congressmen Walden, Welch, Nunes and Neal sent a Dear Colleague to their fellow members of the House of Representatives asking them to cosponsor the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act of 2015 (S. 377, H.R. 745). This bill will make the current temporary ambulance add-on payments permanent for all ambulance services. Even with our recent victory of a temporary 33-month extension of crucial Medicare ambulance relief, our Champions on Capitol Hill realize the importance of receiving permanent Medicare relief. They, like every ambulance service across the country, understand that a permanent solution is necessary to provide quality health care to individuals and our communities both today and tomorrow. The AAA has been working tirelessly to help advance this critical legislation. Now, more than ever, it is important that all members of the AAA contact their members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor both S. 377 and H.R. 745. Coupled with the recent Dear Colleague sent by our Champions on Capitol Hill, your individual contact with your representatives will be a powerful tool in helping to push for permanent Medicare ambulance relief. Every letter, phone call, and meeting will help us to achieve this important milestone (more…)

Senate Delays Vote on SGR Repeal Package

Early this morning after completing action on a FY 2016 Senate Budget Resolution, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the Senate would not act on legislation (H.R. 2) to permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for physicians until after the Easter recess. H.R. 2 includes the 33-month extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance increases. Senate Majority Leader McConnell had sought consideration today of H.R. 2 under unanimous consent which requires the support of all 100 Senators. There were objections to the expedited vote and thus the Senate is now expected to consider the bill when it returns on April 14. The temporary Medicare ambulance increases expire on March 31. However, contractors have a standard requirement to hold all Medicare claims for 14 days before making payment. The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a notice to contractors formally directing them to utilize this hold. So if the Senate does complete action on H.R. 2 on April 14 there will be no need for reprocessing any claims for the retroactive increases. Should action on H.R. 2 be delayed further, Congress could do a short-term extension or simply allow the provisions to expire for a (more…)

House Votes in Favor of Permanent Doc Fix, Bill Moves to the Senate

Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 2, doing away with Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula and passing a permanent doc fix. The 392-37 vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan. As we reported on March 24, thanks to our champions on Capitol Hill, a 33-month extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance increases was included in the bill. If enacted, the bill would extend the deadline for expiration of Medicare ambulance relief from March 31 until December 31, 2017. The Senate still needs to pass the bill and is working on a short time-line before they adjourn for recess. Senate Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns about different aspects of the bill so it is unclear whether the chamber will consider H.R. 2 before it recesses. It is also uncertain if Congress would pass a short-term extension to give the Senate more time or if CMS would be required to formalize its 14-day claim hold policy should H.R. 2 not be enacted before March 31. In addition to Medicare ambulance relief, the package also includes language from the Protecting Integrity of Medicare Act (H.R. 1021) expanding the current prior authorization pilot programs on repetitive BLS non-emergency ambulance transports in (more…)

House SGR Repeal Package Contains Ambulance Relief Extension

Earlier today, House Republican and Democratic leadership released the complete package (H.R. 2) for a permanent fix to the physician fee schedule. I am happy to report that the AAA through our champions on Capitol Hill was successful in getting a 33-month extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance increases included in the bill. If enacted, the bill would extend the deadline for expiration of Medicare ambulance relief from March 31 until December 31, 2017. The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2 on either Thursday or Friday prior to adjourning for the two-week Easter recess. The bill is currently expected to pass the House with bipartisan support. Senate Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns about different aspects of the bill so it is unclear whether the chamber will consider H.R. 2 before it recesses. It is also unclear if Congress would pass a short-term extension to give the Senate more time or if CMS would be required to formalize its 14-day claim hold policy should H.R. 2 not be enacted before March 31. The package also includes language from the Protecting Integrity of Medicare Act (H.R. 1021) expanding the current prior authorization pilot programs on repetitive BLS non-emergency ambulance transports (more…)

Advocate for Permanent Medicare Ambulance Relief

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently developing a package on a permanent fix to the physician fee schedule. House Speaker John Boehner recently announced the effort for a permanent fix instead of another extension and the framework of a package is coming together quickly. It is therefore critical that you contact your members of Congress today in support of permanent ambulance relief. Please write to your members of Congress and ask that they cosponsor the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act (H.R. 745, S. 377) and support including the language of the bill in a permanent physician fix package. H.R. 745 and S. 377 would make the current temporary Medicare increases of 2% urban, 3% rural and the super rural bonus payment permanent as well as implement several additional key reforms to the Medicare ambulance fee schedule. The current extension of the temporary fix to the physician fee schedule and the ambulance increases expire at the end of March. If a final package comes together, the House could vote the week of March 23 sending a bill to the Senate for consideration. This package represents our best chance of making the Medicare ambulance increases permanent. Send Letters (more…)