It’s Time for EMS to Apply for HHS Provider Relief Fund Tranche 4!

Recorded October 8, 2021 | Free to All | Speaker: Asbel Montes

The deadline for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) applications is 11:59 PM October 26, 2021. If your EMS agency has not yet applied for funds, the American Ambulance Association strongly encourages you to do so! We are happy to answer member questions, just email hello@ambulance.org. Remember, Amber cost data collection software (www.emsamber.com) access is included with your AAA membership and has a PRF module to help you with your application. If you are an AAA member and need help accessing Amber, email shilker@ambulance.org. HRSA is also hosting a technical assistance webinar for PRF applications on October 13, 2021.

EMS.gov | NEMSAC Members Appointed

From EMS.gov on October 6

National EMS Advisory Council Members Appointed

Diverse group of representatives will make recommendations to help strengthen the nation’s EMS systems

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg recently appointed 15 new members and 10 returning members to serve on the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC). The members of the council will provide advice and recommendations regarding EMS to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Department of Transportation and to the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS. Find a list of NEMSAC members and their bios on the NEMSAC page on EMS.gov.

Meet the New NEMSAC

NEMSAC meets several times a year to discuss issues facing the EMS community and the council’s recommendations. The next meeting will take place Wednesday, Nov. 3, and Thursday, Nov. 4, from 1-5 p.m. ET on both days. The meeting will be virtual, and a livestream will be available for viewing. Sign up to receive the latest updates from the Office of EMS, including information about how to register to watch the NEMSAC meeting or make a public comment.

NEMSAC logo Established in 2007, NEMSAC consists of 25 members of the EMS community who represent different aspects of the industry to advise NHTSA on EMS issues. Members are appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation for two-year terms and each may serve up to two terms.

American Ambulance Association 2021 Award Winners Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact
Amanda Riordan
media@ambulance.org

 AMERICAN AMBULANCE ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES 2021 AWARD WINNERS

Washington, DC, October 5, 2021—Shawn Baird, President of the American Ambulance Association (AAA), announced the 2021 Award Winners at the AAA board meeting on September 21st.  The awardees are as follows:

Affiliate of the Year

  • The Mercury Group – for their strategic outreach shining the light and attention on the role that EMS plays in the pandemic.
  • Sellers Dorsey – for their efforts in support of state Medicaid supplemental payments for EMS providers.

Partnership of the Year

  • International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the National Association of EMTs (NAEMT) for their collaboration throughout the pandemic on both legislative and regulatory issues.

Distinguished Service Award

  • Jon Krohmer, Director, NHTSA’s Office of EMS – for his tireless efforts during the Public Health Emergency (PHE).
  • Maria Bianchi, AAA Chief Executive Officer – for her unwavering dedication and leadership through a global pandemic.

President’s Award

  • Asbel Montes, Acadian Ambulance Service, Lafayette, Louisiana for his leadership on ground ambulance policies, future payment reform initiatives, and balance billing.

Robert L Forbuss Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Josef (Joe) Penner, Medic (Mecklenburg EMS Agency) for his decades of service, leadership, and vision in EMS.

Walter J. Schaefer Award

  • Rachel Harracksingh, Life Ambulance, El Paso, Texas for her leadership, guidance, and tenacity in growing AAA’s political outreach and presence on Capitol Hill.

The Awards will be presented at the AAA Annual Conference and Trade Show President’s Reception on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, at the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine Texas.


About the American Ambulance Association

The American Ambulance Association safeguards the future of mobile healthcare through advocacy, thought leadership, and education. AAA advances sustainable EMS policy, empowering our members to serve their communities with high-quality on-demand healthcare.

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CMS | Open Door Forum on Prior Authorization for RSNAT

From CMS on October 5, 2021

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

Special Open Door Forum:  Repetitive, Scheduled Non-Emergent Ambulance Transport Prior Authorization Model National Expansion

Thursday, October 28, 2021
2:00-3:30 pm Eastern Time
Conference Call Only

Participant Dial-In Number: 1-888-455-1397 | Conference ID #: 8604468

CMS will host a Special Open Door Forum (SODF) to allow ambulance suppliers, other Medicare providers, and additional interested parties to learn about the upcoming national expansion of the Repetitive, Scheduled Non-Emergent Ambulance Transport (RSNAT) Prior Authorization Model in Medicare fee for service. CMS is implementing the national model in multiple phases beginning with Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas on December 1, 2021.  The RSNAT Prior Authorization Model is currently operating in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina since 2014 and in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia since 2016. This Special ODF will include information on national expansion, the prior authorization process, and a Q&A period.

You can find more information on the model and slides for the ODF presentation by going to:

http://go.cms.gov/PAAmbulance

Questions on the model can be sent to: AmbulancePA@cms.hhs.gov

We look forward to your participation.

Special Open Door Participation Instructions:

Participant Dial-In Number: 1-888-455-1397

Conference ID #: 8604468

Note: TTY Communications Relay Services are available for the Hearing Impaired. For TTY services dial 7-1-1 or 1-800-855-2880. A Relay Communications Assistant will help.

A transcript and audio recording of this Special ODF will be posted to the Special Open Door Forum website at https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts for downloading.                  

For automatic emails of Open Door Forum schedule updates (E-Mailing list subscriptions) and to view Frequently Asked Questions please visit our website at https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums

Thank you for your interest in CMS Open Door Forums.

Congressional Letter on the EMS Workforce Shortage

October 1, 2021

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell & Minority Leader McCarthy,

Our paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), as well as the organizations that they serve, take on substantial risk every day to treat and transport patients that call 9-1-1. But our nation’s EMS system is facing a crippling workforce shortage, a long-term problem that has been building for more than a decade. It threatens to undermine our emergency 9-1-1 infrastructure and deserves urgent attention by the Congress.

The most sweeping survey of its kind — involving nearly 20,000 employees working at 258 EMS organizations — found that overall turnover among paramedics and EMTs ranges from 20 to 30 percent annually. With percentages that high, ambulance services face 100% turnover over a four- year period. Staffing shortages compromise our ability to respond to healthcare emergencies, especially in rural and underserved parts of the country.

The pandemic exacerbated this shortage and highlighted our need to better understand the drivers of workforce turnover. There are many factors. Our ambulance crews are suffering under the grind of surging demand, burnout, fear of getting sick and stresses on their families. In addition, with COVID-19 halting clinical and in-person trainings for a long period of time, our pipeline for staff is stretched even more.

The challenge is to make sure that the paramedics and EMTs of the future know that EMS is a rewarding destination. Many healthcare providers have extensive professional development resources, but that simply does not exist for EMS. COVID-19 has put additional pressures on the health care system and added another layer of complexity to the emergency response infrastructure.

HRSA EMS Training Funding

Fortunately, there are immediate and long-term solutions. Although the provider relief funds are essential and helpful to address the challenges of the pandemic, we need funding for EMS that addresses paramedic and EMT training, recruitment, and advancement more directly. The Congress can provide specific direction and funds to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to help solve this workforce crisis. Those funds can be used to pay for critical training and professional development programs. Some of our members have already begun offering programs and would benefit from additional funding support from HRSA. Funding public-private partnerships between community colleges and private employers to increase the applicant pool and training and employment numbers through grants could overcome the staffing deficit we face.

Paramedic and EMT Direct Pay Bump

In addition, more immediately targeting funds for EMS retention could address the shortage we are experiencing day to day. To help ambulance services retain paramedics and EMTs, we request funds through HRSA to be paid directly to paramedics and EMTs. These earmarked funds could be distributed to each state with specific guidance that the State Offices of EMS distribute the funds to all ground ambulance services using a proportional formula (per field medic).

COVID-19 Medicare Reimbursement Increase

With capitated payments by federal payors, there are limited funds to transfer into workforce initiatives. Increasing Medicare payments temporarily would be meaningful to compete with other employers and other jobs. This could help infuse additional funds into the workforce and create innovative staffing models that take into account hospital bed shortages and overflow.

Congressional Hearings on EMS Workforce Shortage

The workforce shortage crisis facing EMS spans several potential Committees of jurisdiction. This critical shortage is particularly felt in many of our rural and underserved communities. As Congress moves on the steps we have outlined above, we also urge you to organize hearings in the appropriate Committees to develop long-term solutions and focus the country’s attention on these urgent issues.

Thank you in advance for continuing to ensure that our frontline responders have the resources necessary to continue caring for our patients in their greatest moment of need, while maintaining the long-term viability of our nation’s EMS system.

Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely,

Shawn Baird
President
American Ambulance Association

Bruce Evans
President
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians

CMS | Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection Webinars October 7 & 12

From CMS on October 4, 2021

Dear Ground Ambulance Providers and Suppliers,

Please attend our October 7 webinar and October 12 Q&A session to learn about the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System. Both events will use Zoom. Starting January 1, 2023, selected ground ambulance organizations are required to report cost, utilization, revenue, and other information to CMS. Organizations that fail to report may be subject to a 10% payment reduction.

Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System Webinar: Labor Costs – October 7

Thursday, October 7 from 2­­­­­­­­­­-3pm ET

Register for this Zoom webinar.

During this webinar, CMS will walk through the Labor Cost section of the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection Instrument (section 7). The presentation includes examples to help different types of ground ambulance organizations understand how to collect and report data for their paid and volunteer staff.

A Q&A session will follow this presentation. You may also send your questions in advance to AmbulanceDataCollection@cms.hhs.gov with “October 7 Labor Cost Webinar” in the subject line.

More information:

 

Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System: Q&A Session – October 12

Tuesday, October 12 from 2-3pm ET

Register for the session.

Do you have questions about the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System? Join this live Q&A session. You may also send your questions in advance to AmbulanceDataCollection@cms.hhs.gov with “October 12 Q&A” in the subject line. We’ll update documents on our Ambulances Services Center webpage with answers to common questions from this session.

More Information:

OCR Issues Guidance on HIPAA, COVID-19 Vaccinations, and the Workplace

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance to help the public understand when the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule applies to disclosures and requests for information about whether a person has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

In the guidance, OCR reminds the public that the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not apply to employers or employment records. The HIPAA Privacy Rule only applies to HIPAA covered entities (health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers that conduct standard electronic transactions), and, in some cases, to their business associates.  The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to most EMS providers but only as it relates to it’s patient’s Protect Health Information (PHI).

Today’s guidance addresses common workplace scenarios and answers questions about whether and how the HIPAA Privacy Rule applies. The Privacy Rule does not apply when an individual:

  • Is asked about their vaccination status by a school, employer, store, restaurant, entertainment venue, or another individual.
  • Asks another individual, their doctor, or a service provider whether they are vaccinated.
  • Asks a company, such as a home health agency, whether its workforce members are vaccinated.

Generally, the Privacy Rule does not regulate what information can be requested from employees as part of the terms and conditions of employment that an employer may impose on its workforce

The Privacy Rule does not prohibit a covered entity or business associate from requiring or requesting each workforce member to:

  • Provide documentation of their COVID-19 or flu vaccination to their current or prospective employer.
  • Sign a HIPAA authorization for a covered health care provider to disclose the workforce member’s COVID-19 or other vaccination record to their employer.
  • Wear a mask–while in the employer’s facility, on the employer’s property, or in the normal course of performing their duties at another location.
  • Disclose whether they have received a COVID-19 vaccine in response to queries from current or prospective patients.

OCR stated that they are issuing this guidance to help consumers, businesses, and health care entities understand when HIPAA applies to disclosures about COVID-19 vaccination status and to ensure that they have the information they need to make informed decisions about protecting themselves and others from COVID-19.

More details about the latest guidance on HIPAA, COVID-19 Vaccinations, and the Workplace may be found at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/guidance/hipaa-covid-19-vaccination-workplace/index.html.  If you have questions regarding what information you may or may not share relative to COVID-19 vaccinations, please contact the AAA for assistance.