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…)
House Committee Passes Medicare Ambulance Relief Bill On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted out favorably an amendment in the nature of a substitute to the Comprehensive Operations, Sustainability, ant Transport Act of 2017 (HR 3729) by Congressman Nunes (R-CA) and Sewell (D-AL). H.R. 3729 would extend for five years the Medicare ambulance add-on payments of 2% urban, 3% rural and the super rural bonus. The legislation would also implement cost reporting for ambulance service suppliers. H.R. 3729 is a revised version of the Ambulance Medicare Budget and Operations Act (HR 3236)introduced by Congressmen Nunes (R-CA), Upton (R-MI) and Welch (D-VT). While the AAA supports H.R. 3236, there were several changes made in H.R. 3729 that are concerning to the AAA. In particular, the addition of an offset which would implement an additional 13%* cut to BLS nonemergency transports to and from dialysis centers and a change in the penalty for not filing a time, complete and accurate cost report. The AAA has therefore taken a neutral position on H.R. 3729 as we work with the House Ways and Means Committee and Congressmen Nunes and Sewell on modifications to the bill. This week, AAA Board Members and Volunteer Leaders were in DC and met with both sponsors (more…)
Take Action for Extending Medicare Ambulance Relief Ask your Representatives to Support H.R. 3236 – The Ambulance Medicare Budget and Operations Act of 2017 The current 33-month extension of the Medicare add-on payments is set to expire at the end of December 2017. Losing these add-on payments would be a devastating blow to ambulance services across the country. It is crucial that the payments be extended as we push for a long-term solution. H.R. 3236 introduced by Reps. Nunes, Upton, and Welch would extend the current temporary Medicare add-ons for five years. More details about the Bill can be found below. Let your Representative know that you support H.R. 3236 — Here are three quick and easy ways to get involved! 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. Active on Social Media? Tweet at your Representative asking for their support of H.R. 3236! Authorize Your Account Enter Contact Information Tweet! (Tweet will be (more…)
Take Action for Permanent Medicare Ambulance Relief Ask your Senators to Support S.967 – 2017 Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act The current 33-month extension of the Medicare add-on payments is set to expire at the end of December 2017. Losing these add-on payments would be a devastating blow to ambulance services across the country. It is crucial that the payments be made permanent as we push for a long-term solution. More details about the Bill can be found below. Let your Senators know that you support S. 967 — Here are three quick and easy ways to get involved! 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(s) to your Senators – click “Submit Messages” Active on Social Media? Tweet at your Senators asking for their support of S. 967! Authorize Your Account Enter Contact Information Tweet! (Tweet will be auto-generated with your Senators tagged) Know your Senators’ Twitter accounts already? Tweet: “#ambulance svs in your state need you, @[your Senators]! Please co-sponsor S. 967 to help us continue to provide quality #EMS!” Post on Facebook why S. 967 is important! (more…)
Medicare Ambulance Relief and Reform The top legislative priority this year for the American Ambulance Association is to extend, or hopefully make permanent, the temporary Medicare ambulance add-on payments. The temporary increases of 2% urban, 3% rural and the super rural bonus expire at the end of this year. The 2% urban and 3% rural increases have been in place since 2008 and the super rural bonus payment since 2004. While the AAA and our members have been successful in getting the payments extended numerous times, 2017 is not a typical year and we need everyone to be prepared to help push to make the increases permanent or extended for the longest possible duration. The other top priorities for the AAA are for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to recognize ambulance services more like providers of medical services instead of merely suppliers of transportation. In addition, it is critical that Congress direct CMS to collect cost data from ambulance service providers using a method, which will result in usable and meaningful data from everyone, but also not be overly burdensome on extremely low volume providers. Finally, Congress needs to target fraud and abuse with the transport of...
AAA President Mark Postma created the Rural Providers Task Force which is being chaired by Jim Finger of Regional Ambulance Service in Rutland, Vermont. The Task Force will bring the perspective of small providers to the AAA Payment Reform Committee as it develops recommendations on how best to reform Medicare reimbursement policies. We are specifically targeting as Task Force volunteers those AAA members who operate 10 or fewer ambulances and serve rural communities. The Task Force will initially focus on three key policy areas which are: 1) Ensuring that a cost data collection system is not overly burdensome on rural providers; 2) Understanding the impact of changing from ambulance service suppliers to providers will have on rural operations; and, 3) Looking at potential different options for defining rural areas within large urban counties under the Goldsmith Modification. Our industry is predominately small operations with rural areas often relying on ambulance services as the only form of emergency medical care. Approximately 73% of ambulance service providers bill less than 1,000 transports to Medicare each year. President Postma has adopted the tag line for the AAA of “Representing EMS in America” and it is important that rural providers are representing within the (more…)