July 22 | EMS Advocacy Facebook Livestream


July 22, 2020 | 14:00 ET | Register Now for a Reminder!

Join AAA advocacy experts for a fast-paced informal dialogue on Facebook Live! Learn first-hand about EMS advocacy initiatives in the face of COVID-19.

Register to receive a reminder email one hour in advance of the live broadcast on the American Ambulance Association Facebook page!

Panelists

  • Randy Strozyk, Secretary, AAA
  • Jamie Pafford-Gresham, Chair, AAA Government Affairs Committee
  • Asbel Montes, Chair, AAA Payment Reform Committee
  • Rob Lawrence, Chair, AAA Communications Committee
  • Maria Bianchi, AAA Executive Director
  • Tristan North, AAA SVP of Government Affairs
  • Mercury Group Public Affairs

Register Now

House Passes PPP Extension

On July 1, The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to extend the deadline to apply for forgivable small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. The legislation was previously passed by the Senate and President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

The bill extends the deadline to request Paycheck Protection Program loans to August 8 from June 30. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which oversees the program with the Treasury Department, stopped accepting loan applications at midnight Tuesday. The extension is intended to provide more time for small businesses to apply for the approximately $129 billion in PPP funding remaining.

The program provides forgivable loans that small businesses and other qualifying entities can use to cover payroll and other select costs.

The AAA will continue to press the Congress and federal agencies for help to ensure ambulance service organizations and our paramedics and EMTs serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic have the necessary resources and financial assistance to serve their communities.

Government Affairs Update: What We’re Working On

With the U.S. Senate on track to consider a fourth economic stimulus package before their August recess, the AAA is working hard to promote legislative language that positively impact the EMS industry and ambulance services across the country. Here is a snapshot of those current efforts.

Ambulance Funding in Response to COVID-19

As the Senate develops its next economic stimulus legislation to address the impact of COVID-19, the AAA has met with leaders and staff on Capitol Hill to increase the percentage of the general allocation of funds under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) for ground ambulance services providers and suppliers to equal a total of $2.89 billion in funds for our industry. The $2.89 billion reflects $48,000 per ambulance with an estimated 60,000 registered vehicles. We greatly appreciate the recent payments under the Fund which will help with our current situation. However, the ground ambulance services industry is only 0.90% of Medicare fee-for-service annual outlays which resulted in $270 million for our industry in round one of PHSSEF payments. This figure is disproportional to the large role of ground ambulance service providers and suppliers in responding to COVID-19 and our increased costs and reduced revenues during the public health emergency (PHE).

The AAA has highlighted the increased costs, uncompensated care and lost revenue related to COVID-19 and hope to see ambulance-specific funding in the Senate’s 4th stimulus package.

Expand Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the AAA has advocated to add COVID-19 as an infectious disease under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit (PSOB) and extend coverage during the pandemic to paramedics and EMTs employed by a private ambulance service who die from COVID-19.

On April 9, the AAA and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr requesting the Department of Justice extend coverage under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program to all paramedics and EMTs during the COVID-19 national health emergency.

On May 22, the AAA received a written response from the DOJ denying any expansion of the PSOB program stating that paramedics and emergency medical technicians employed by private for-profit EMS agencies do not meet the definition of “public safety officers” for purposes of PSOB eligibility.

To push for a legislative fix, AAA Staff and consultants have continued to advocate that all paramedics and EMTs be covered by the program regardless of their employer.

Expansion of Treatment in Place

The AAA has sent several letters asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reimburse ground ambulance service providers and suppliers for performing protocol-driven treatments in place during the PHE.

This coverage will help limit the spread of COVID-19 by keeping patients with mild cases of COVID-19 at home and out of overcrowded hospitals or other facilities where they could expose others to the virus. With mostly positive response on our proposed regulatory fixes, the AAA will continue to follow up and address any roadblocks to full coverage of Treatment in Place.

Allow Private For-Profit EMS Providers to Apply Directly for FEMA Grants

The AAA has long advocated to allow private for-profit EMS agencies to apply directly to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Public Assistance program grants during the PHE and waive the matching requirement for emergency response providers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more necessary than ever that EMS agencies receive the funding the deserve for their role in the COVID-19 response. This will allow all EMS agencies to apply for financial assistance and for state and local governments to focus their limited resources on directly combating the pandemic.

We have been met with positive response from key Senators serving on Committees and Subcommittees of jurisdiction.

Other Legislation

The AAA was pleased to see the introduction of the Pandemic Responder Service Award Act (S. 3763) by Sen. Casey (D-PA) which provides front-line healthcare workers with awards up to $10,000 based on days of eligible service during the PHE. In the case of any qualified health care worker who was hospitalized or died as a result of contracting COVID–19, the award would be the full $10,000. This bill specifically includes private for-profit ambulance service providers, in a well-needed recognition of the work they provide on the frontlines of COVID-19. The AA will continue to work with Sen. Casey’s office as well as push for the inclusion of private for-profit providers in the House companion bill.

The AAA is also pleased to announce the introduction of H.R. 7292 by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) which would provide forgiveness of certain accelerated and advanced payments under Medicare parts A and B. While the funding provided by the CARES Act was critical at keeping ambulance service providers operating, the Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payment Program has the potential to cripple health care providers in the near future as Medicare payments are withheld until those advanced payments are repaid. H.R. 7292 would forgive the repayments and help ensure financial stability for ambulance service providers across the country.

The AAA will continue to press the Congress and federal agencies for help to ensure ambulance service organizations and our paramedics and EMTs serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic have the necessary resources and financial assistance to serve their communities.

 

Always In Our Hearts

Please join the American Ambulance Association in honoring those who have fallen serving their communities in the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does it mean to be a hero? Paramedics, EMTs, nurses, and firefighters risk their lives every day to serve on the…

Posted by American Ambulance Association on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Fed expands Main Street Lending Program

On June 8, the U.S. Federal Reserve expanded its Main Street Lending Program to allow more small businesses to receive financial support. The Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) was established by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury under the CARES Act to support small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the changes, the Fed lowered the minimum loan amount and raised the maximum loan limit. It also extended loan terms to five years from four years and will allow businesses to defer principal payments for the first two years of the loan, instead of the first year. The expanded MSLP will also accept loans that under the previously announced terms, if funded before June 10, 2020.

Unlike the popular Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, the MSLP’s loans cannot be forgiven. However, the latest changes are designed to make the program attractive to a wider range of small businesses.

The MSLP is open to companies with up to 15,000 employees or less than $5 billion in revenue last year. Small businesses that have received PPP loans are permitted to borrow under the Main Street program.

The AAA leadership and staff will continue to tirelessly advocate for the much-needed relief to ensure that our members can keep their doors open, receive the equipment necessary to protect their staff, and the resources to provide excellence in mobile healthcare. We will keep you abreast of our advocacy efforts as well as changes to the MSLP as soon as the details become available.

Senate Passes PPP Flexibility Act

On June 3, the U.S. Senate passed on voice vote the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020. The legislation was passed by the House on May 28. The President is expected shortly to sign the bill into law.

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010) provides small businesses with more flexibility in how the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds established under the CARES Act can be spent.

Under this new bill, borrowers who furloughed or laid-off workers will not be subject to a loan forgiveness reduction due to reduced employee count as long as they restore their pre-COVID employment by the new deadline of December 31, 2020. Businesses will also have 24 weeks instead of just 8 weeks to spend the funds.

This legislation lowers the minimum percentage of PPP loans that must be allocated towards payroll from 75% to 60% and clarifies a borrower does not have to begin repaying a loan until the SBA determines whether or not the business is eligible for loan forgiveness.

The PPP Flexibility Act also lifts the ban on borrowers whose loans were partially or completely forgiven from deferring payment of payroll taxes. The payroll tax deferral is now open to all PPP borrowers.

The PPP provides businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including ground ambulance service organizations, with access to loans at favorable terms to cover employee payroll for an original timeframe of eight weeks. Under the CARES Act, a borrower can have all or a portion of the loan forgiven depending on the percentage of retained employees.

The AAA will continue to press the Congress and federal agencies for help to ensure ambulance service organizations and our paramedics and EMTs serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic have the necessary resources and financial assistance to serve their communities.

URGENT – CALL TO ACTION

Contact Your Senators Today on Ambulance Specific Funding!

The U.S. Senate is currently developing its next economic relief package to address the impact of COVID-19. The House had passed its version, the HEROES Act, which includes $100 billion for health care providers. While our members would likely be eligible for a portion of those funds, it is vital that the final package passed by Congress allocate funds specifically for ground ambulance services.

Please contact your Senators today and ask that they advocate for a funding program under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund specifically for the increased costs, loss of revenue, and uncompensated care facing ground ambulance service organizations due to COVID-19.

Please e-mail your Senators today!

 It will take you only a few minutes per Senate office to email a letter. Just follow these steps. 

  1. USE LETTER TEMPLATE: CLICK HERE to access a draft letter. Please customize your letter including the cities and towns you serve, if you are sending to the office of a Senator or Representative and any additional details as to services you are providing during the COVID-19 outbreak and the financial impact on your operation.
  1. LOOK UP YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND THEIR WEBFORM ADDRESS: CLICK HERE to access a list of the webform addresses of your Members of Congress.
  1. SEND LETTERS TO MEMBERS: Cut and paste the webform link into your Internet browser and you will be directed to the webpage for contacting your member of Congress. Fill in your contact information, cut and paste your letter into the comments box and hit submit.

In addition to advocating for the Senate, as well as the House, to include funding specifically for ground ambulance services in the next COVID-19 economic relief package, the AAA is pressing for the Department of Health and Human Services to allocate more funding to EMS under the $75 billion already appropriated to the PHSSEF through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Assistance Act.

The AAA will continue to fight for our members as your operation and paramedic and EMTs are on the front lines of combating the Coronavirus.

House Passes Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

On May 28, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a vote of 417 to 1 the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020.

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 provides small businesses with more flexibility in how the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds established under the CARES Act are spent and still qualify for loan forgiveness.

The PPP provides businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including ambulance service organizations, with access to loans at favorable terms to cover employee payroll for an original timeframe of eight weeks. Under the CARES Act, a borrower can have all or a portion of the loan forgiven depending on the percentage of retained employees.

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act extends the timeframe in which to spend PPP funds from the current 8 weeks to 24 weeks and extends the original deadline from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020 for businesses to rehire furloughed employees to qualify for loan forgiveness. The legislation also lowers the minimum percentage of loans that must be allocated towards payroll from 75% to 60% and clarifies a borrower does not have to start repaying a loan until the SBA determines whether or not the business is eligible for loan forgiveness.

Further, the bill amends the program so loan forgiveness will not be affected by an inability to rehire all employees if an employer is unable to rehire a former employee, can demonstrate an inability to hire similarly qualified employees before the deadline, or can demonstrate an inability to return to their pre-COVID level of business activity.

The final provision of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act removes restrictions on deferment of payroll taxes and PPP loan forgiveness, allowing small businesses to both qualify for loan forgiveness under the PPP and delay their 2020 payroll taxes.

The AAA leadership and staff will continue to tirelessly advocate for the much-needed relief to ensure that our members can keep their doors open, receive the equipment necessary to protect their staff, and the resources to provide excellence in mobile healthcare. We will keep you abreast of our advocacy efforts as well as changes to the Paycheck Protection Program as soon as the details become available.

AAA Sends letter on Accelerated Payments

On May 26, the AAA sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma, requesting improvements to the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment (MAAP) Programs. The nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is putting an increased financial strain on emergency medical services, and ground ambulance service providers and suppliers already faced significant funding challenges. The suggested improvements include:

  • Extending the interim period prior to the date repayment begins from four months to at least 12 months;
  • Reducing the amount that is withheld during the repayment period from one hundred percent (100%) of the Medicare payment to not more than twenty-five percent (25%);
  • Extending the date on which interest first begins to accrue from 210 days to at least 2 years (preferably 3 years);
  • Reduce the interest rate that would be applicable after that date from the current 9.625 percent to a rate of no more than 2%; and
  • Reopen the MAAP to allow EMS agencies that did not request a Medicare advance prior to April 26, 2020 to request an advance.

The AAA believes the improvements to the MAAP discussed above would provide short-term financial relief to ambulance service providers and suppliers nationwide and allow us to continue our critical work during this difficult time for our country. Read our letter HERE.

Justice Department Responds on PSOB

On April 9, the AAA and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr requesting the Department of Justice extend coverage under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program to all paramedics and EMTs during the COVID-19 national health emergency. While paramedics and EMTs employed by governmental and non-profit EMS agencies are currently eligible for the program, those employed by private for-profit organizations and on the front lines of responding to COVID-19 pandemic are not covered. Read our letter HERE.

On May 22, the AAA received a written response from the DOJ denying any expansion of the PSOB program. They state paramedics and emergency medical technicians employed by private for-profit EMS agencies do not meet the definition of “public safety officers” for purposes of PSOB eligibility as defined under the 1976 PSOB Act despite the waiver of said eligibility requirements by former Attorney General Ashcroft in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Read their Response HERE.

The AAA continues to pursue an expansion of the PSOB program to include all paramedics and EMTs and will push for a legislative solution on Capitol Hill.

HHS Posts FAQ on Healthcare COVID-19 Relief Fund

Earlier today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted a revised set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the terms and details of payments distributed under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to Medicare providers including ground ambulance service providers and suppliers. The updated FAQs cover a range of topics regarding the acceptance of funds, revenue data submission and eligibility criteria.

Download FAQ

CMS Modifies the Cost Data Collection System Year 1 Data Collection

CMS has issued a blanket waiver modifying the data collection period for the ground ambulance services that were selected to report in Year 1.  Under the current law, these organizations would have been required to collect data beginning January 1, 2020, and through December 31, 2020.  The waiver allows these organizations to select a new continuous 12-month data collection period that begins between January 1, 2021 and ends December 31, 2021.  This modification means that such organizations will collect and report data during the same time period as the ground organizations that CMS will select for Year 2 of the cost collection program.

From the summary of the waiver, it appears that organizations will have the choice of submitting data in Year 1 or Year 2.  CMS has not moved the timeline for any other data collection year, so there is the potential for a substantial number of organizations to report in Year 2, which would increase the amount of data available.

The AAA has supported the data collection system to make sure that CMS and the Congress have valid and reliable data to support maintaining the geographic add-ons to the Medicare Ambulance Fee Schedule and to support efforts to address the chronic underfunding of the Medicare Ambulance Fee Schedule.

The complete FAQ is below and also available at: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/summary-covid-19-emergency-declaration-waivers.pdf (on page 29).

“CMS is modifying the data collection period and data reporting period, as defined at 42 CFR § 414.626(a), for ground ambulance organizations (as defined at 42 CFR § 414.605) that were selected by CMS under 42 CFR § 414.626(c) to collect data beginning between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 (year 1) for purposes of complying with the data reporting requirements described at 42 CFR § 414.626. Under this modification, these ground ambulance organizations can select a new continuous 12-month data collection period that begins between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021, collect data necessary to complete the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection Instrument during their selected data collection period, and submit a completed Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection Instrument during the data reporting period that corresponds to their selected data collection period. CMS is modifying this data collection and reporting period to increase flexibilities for ground ambulance organizations that would otherwise be required to collect data in 2020- 2021 so that they can focus on their operations and patient care.”

“As a result of this modification, ground ambulance organizations selected for year 1 data collection and reporting will collect and report data during the same period of time that will apply to ground ambulance organizations selected by CMS under 42 CFR § 414.626(c) to collect data beginning between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021 (year 2) for purposes of complying with the data reporting requirements described at 42 CFR § 414.626.”

House Vote Scheduled today on HEROES Act

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act “HEROES Act” (H.R. 6800). The HEROES Act is the House Democratic proposal for the latest legislative effort on economic relief related to COVID-19. The House is expected to pass the HEROES Act along party lines with the Senate developing its own legislative proposal with consideration in the coming weeks.

The HEROES Act contains numerous provisions of interest to ground ambulance service providers and suppliers. For a comprehensive summary of those provisions, please click HERE.

Here are a few of the highlights:

$100 Billion for Health Care Fund

  • $100 billion in additional funding for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. This is the Fund under which ground ambulance service providers and suppliers have received direct payments to partially offset lost revenue as well as eligibility for grant funds to cover the cost of treating uninsured presumptive and actual COVID-19 patients. The bill would also set forth a methodology for the distribution of the new funds and all previously unallocated funds, based on the lost revenue and expenses of a provider or supplier. The AAA continues to advocate for a program under the Fund specifically for ground ambulance services.

Employee Retention Tax Credit Improvements

  • Increases the retention credit from 50% to 80% and the wage cap from $10,000 to $15,000 per quarter. The bill would also change the definition of a large employer from organizations with over 100 employees to those with over 1,500 employees. The Employee Retention Tax Credit is intended for companies not eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program and allows employers to offset employment taxes, with any excess treated as refundable tax credits.

Payroll Protection Program

  • Eliminates the limitation for employers to take advantage of the payroll tax deferral period to the extent they qualified for loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program or the U.S. Treasury Program Management Authority.

$500 Tax Credit for First Responders and Frontline Employees

  • Provides a $500 above the line deduction for 2020 for the uniforms, supplies, and equipment of governmental and non-governmental first responders and COVID19 frontline employees.

The AAA has already turned its sights on the Senate as we continue to advocate for ground ambulance service providers and suppliers in our vital role as frontline medical responders in combating COVID-19.

 

AAA Sends COVID-19 Relief Request Letter to President Trump

On April 28, the American Ambulance Association sent a letter to President Donald Trump with four requests as to how his Administration can best help ground ambulance service providers mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The AAA requested the following:

Increase Financial Assistance Related to COVID-19 for Ground Ambulance Services

Increase the percentage of the general allocation of funds under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) for ground ambulance services providers and suppliers to equal a total of $2.89 billion in funds for our industry. The $2.89 billion reflects $48,000 per ambulance with an estimated 60,000 registered vehicles. We greatly appreciate the recent payments under the Fund which will help with our current situation. However, the ground ambulance services industry is only 0.90% of Medicare fee-for-service annual outlays which resulted in $270 million for our industry in round one of PHSSEF payments. This figure is disproportional to the large role of ground ambulance service providers and suppliers in responding to COVID-19 and our increased costs and reduced revenues during the PHE.

Priority Access for Paramedics and EMTs to PPE, COVID-19 Testing and Tax Relief

Protect paramedics and EMTs by directing federal agencies to provide them with higher priority access to PPE and COVID-19 testing. Paramedics and EMTs are too often not given primary access to PPE and testing even though they are frequently the first health care professionals to come into contact with COVID-19 patients. We also requested tax relief for frontline healthcare responders and to ensure that all governmental and nongovernmental responders are eligible for any additional essential worker compensation specific to the Public Health Emergency (PHE).

Coverage for Treatment in Place During COVID-19 Pandemic

Direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reimburse ground ambulance service providers and suppliers for performing protocol-driven treatments in place during the PHE. This coverage will help limit the spread of COVID-19 by keeping patients with mild cases of COVID-19 at home and out of overcrowded hospitals or other facilities where they could expose others to the virus.

Direct Access to FEMA COVID-19 Grants for All Ground Ambulance Services

Allow private for-profit EMS agencies to apply directly to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Public Assistance program grants during the PHE and waive the matching requirement for emergency response providers. This will allow all EMS agencies to apply for financial assistance and for state and local governments to focus their limited resources on directly combating the pandemic.

The AAA continues to advocate through multiple channels within the Administration and the Congress for relief related to COVID-19 for ground ambulance service providers and suppliers.

Read the Letter

CDC Elevates First Responders to Highest Priority for COVID-19 Testing

On April 27, the CDC issued an update to its Guidance on “Evaluating and Testing Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019” in which “first responders with symptoms” are now in the category of “highest priority” as to the prioritization of groups who should be tested for COVID-19. The AAA has been advocating to federal agencies and the Congress to move first responders to the highest level of priority for COVID-19 testing. The update can be viewed at HERE.

AAA Sends Letter Requesting Priority Testing for EMS

AAA Sends Letter to Requesting Priority Testing for First Responders

Earlier today, the AAA sent a letter to the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) requesting that first responders with COVID-19 symptoms be given priority one status in the order of groups to be tested for COVID-19. The USPHS had issued guidance that assigned first responders a level two status. The AAA stated paramedics and EMTs should be included in the top level with other health care professionals who are on the front lines of caring for patients with COVID-19.  Read the Letter HERE.

 

Read the Letter

CMS Reevaluates Accelerated Payments, Suspends Advances

From the CMS Newsroom

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2020

 CMS Reevaluates Accelerated Payment Program and Suspends Advance Payment Program

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is reevaluating the amounts that will be paid under its Accelerated Payment Program and suspending its Advance Payment Program to Part B suppliers effective immediately. The agency made this announcement following the successful payment of over $100 billion to healthcare providers and suppliers through these programs and in light of the $175 billion recently appropriated for healthcare provider relief payments.

CMS had expanded these temporary loan programs to ensure providers and suppliers had the resources needed to combat the beginning stages of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Funding will continue to be available to hospitals and other healthcare providers on the front lines of the coronavirus response primarily from the  Provider Relief Fund. The Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Programs are typically used to give providers emergency funding and address cash flow issues for providers and suppliers when there is disruption in claims submission or claims processing, including during a public health emergency or Presidentially-declared disaster.

Since expanding the AAP programs on March 28, 2020, CMS approved over 21,000 applications totaling $59.6 billion in payments to Part A providers, which includes hospitals. For Part B suppliers, including doctors, non-physician practitioners and durable medical equipment suppliers, CMS approved almost 24,000 applications advancing $40.4 billion in payments. The AAP programs are not a grant, and providers and suppliers are typically required to pay back the funding within one year, or less, depending on provider or supplier type. Beginning today, CMS will not be accepting any new applications for the Advance Payment Program, and CMS will be reevaluating all pending and new applications for Accelerated Payments in light of historical direct payments made available through the Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Provider Relief Fund.

Significant additional funding will continue to be available to hospitals and other healthcare providers through other programs. Congress appropriated $100 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (PL 116-136) and $75 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PL 116-139) for healthcare providers. HHS is distributing this money through the Provider Relief Fund, and these payments do not need to be repaid.

The CARES Act Provider Relief Fund is being administered through HHS and has already released $30 billion to providers, and is in the process of releasing an additional $20 billion, with more funding anticipated to be released soon. This funding will be used to support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure uninsured Americans can get treatment for COVID-19.

For more information on the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund and how to apply, visit hhs.gov/providerrelief

For an updated fact sheet on the Accelerated and Advance Payment Programs, visit: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/Accelerated-and-Advanced-Payments-Fact-Sheet.pdf

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Get CMS news at cms.gov/newsroom, sign up for CMS news via email and follow CMS on Twitter CMS Administrator @SeemaCMS@CMSgov, and @CMSgovPress.

Congress Provides More PPP and Health Care Funds

Congress Provides More PPP and Health Care Funds

Moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a vote of 388 to 5 the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The United States Senate had passed the legislation by unanimous consent on Tuesday evening. The legislation is a bridge package between the CARES Act and Stimulus Package 4 which is still under development.

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provides an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) established under the CARES Act. The PPP had run out of its initial funding on April 9 and the program has been closed to new applications. The PPP provides businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including ambulance service organizations, with access to loans at favorable terms to cover employee payroll for eight weeks. A borrower can have all or a portion of the loan forgiven depending on the percentage of retained employees.

The legislation also allocates an additional $75 billion in funds for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF). Like the initial $100 billion funding from the CARES Act, these funds are intended to provide economic relief to health care providers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. AAA members received direct grant money a few weeks ago under the PHSSEF in the form of an additional Medicare payment. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will have the discretion to determine how the additional $75 billion is made available to health care providers. The AAA continues to advocate directly with senior HHS officials for ground ambulance service suppliers and providers to receive a share of funds proportional to our role health care providers on the front line of the pandemic.

The final provision of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provides additional funding for testing and research related to COVID-19 through the remainder of 2020.

The AAA with the help of our members had pushed for additional funding under the PHSSEF and were successful. We now need to ensure that the actual funds make their way to our members.

The AAA leadership and staff will continue to tirelessly advocate for the much-needed relief to ensure that our members can keep their doors open, receive the equipment necessary to protect their staff, and the resources to provide excellence in mobile healthcare. We will keep you abreast of our advocacy efforts as well as how to access funding under the PHSSEF as soon as the details become available.

URGENT – CALL TO ACTION Contact Congress Today About COVID-19 Ambulance Relief!

URGENT – CALL TO ACTION

Contact Congress Today About COVID-19 Ambulance Relief!

The Congress and Administration are currently in negotiations on a fourth economic stimulus package to address the impact of COVID-19. While the AAA and our members were successful in helping secure the recent direct payments to ambulance service providers and suppliers, we still have several issues yet to be addressed including additional financial relief. Specifically, we are advocating for coverage for “treatment in place”, the ability of private for-profit EMS organizations to apply directly for FEMA Public Assistance program grants, additional direct compensation for COVID-19 expenses and lost revenue, and priority access to PPE and COVID-19 testing for paramedics and EMTs.

Please e-mail today the health aides for your members of Congress!

 It will take you only a few minutes per congressional office to email a letter. Just follow these steps. 

  1. USE LETTER TEMPLATE: CLICK HERE to access a draft letter. Please customize your letter including the cities and towns you serve, if you are sending to the office of a Senator or Representative and any additional details as to services you are providing during the COVID-19 outbreak and the financial impact on your operation.
  1. LOOK UP YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND THEIR WEBFORM ADDRESS: CLICK HERE to access a list of the webform addresses of your Members of Congress.
  1. SEND LETTERS TO MEMBERS: Cut and paste the webform link into your Internet browser and you will be directed to the webpage for contacting your member of Congress. Fill in your contact information, cut and paste your letter into the comments box and hit submit.

In addition to advocating for the Congress to address these issues in the next economic stimulus package, the AAA is also pressing federal agencies to use their authority to help make some of these changes regulatorily.

The AAA will continue to fight for our members as your operation and paramedic and EMTs are on the front lines of combating the Coronavirus.