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 #EMS providers risk their lives every day to serve on the front lines of #COVID19. Tragically, this means that some don’t make it home to their families. It is our responsibility to honor their memories and support their loved ones. #SupportEMS #PSOB #NotJustaRide #alwaysopen pic.twitter.com/vv7XF7mCH6 — AmericanAmbulanceAsc (@amerambassoc) June 30, 2020

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...

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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....

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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...

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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.  ...

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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...

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Paycheck Protection Program Funding Update

The Department of Treasury has announced that the $350 billion appropriated under the CARES Act for the Paycheck Protection Program has been exhausted. However, Congressional leaders are currently negotiating an economic stimulus package to act as a bridge between the CARES Act and the next comprehensive package stimulus package. A core provision of the bridge package is an allocation of an additional $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. If your operation is in the process or plans to apply for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, you should move forward with your efforts. The AAA is advocating that the bridge package or next comprehensive package include more funding for ambulance services.

AAA/NAEMT Request PSOB Coverage for All Medics During 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. 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 Letter HERE....

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AAA Sends Letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on Paycheck Protection Program

Earlier today, the AAA sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin asking that he use his discretionary authority to apply the same terms of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to ambulance service organizations with 500 or more employees. The PPP, established by the CARES Act, is only available to businesses with 500 or fewer employees and provides more favorable loan terms based on the retention of employees. Read the letter HERE....

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HHS Announces Release of Initial Tranche of CARES Act Provider Relief Funding

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  As part of that Act, Congress allocated $100 billion to the creation of a “CARES Act Provider Relief Fund,” which will be used to support hospitals and other healthcare providers on the front lines of the nation’s coronavirus response.  These funds will be used to fund healthcare-related expenses or to offset lost revenue attributable to COVID-10.  These funds will also be used to ensure that uninsured Americans have access to testing a treatment for COVID-19.  Collectively, this funding is referred to as the “CARES Act Provider Relief Fund.” On April 9, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicated that it would be disbursing the first $30 billion of relief funding to eligible providers and suppliers starting on April 10, 2020.  This money will be disbursed via direct deposit into eligible providers and supplier bank accounts.  Please note that these are outright payments, i.e., these are not loans that will need to be repaid.  Who is Eligible to Receive Relief Fund Payments? HHS indicated that any healthcare provider or supplier that received Medicare Fee-For-Service reimbursements in 2019 will be...

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HEROES Act – Tax Free Income for Paramedics and EMTs

On April 3, Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-MI) introduced the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Emergency Situations Act of 2020 “HEROES Act of 2020” (H.R. 6433). H.R. 6433 would exclude from gross income, the wages (not to exceed $50,000) from February 15 to June 15 of qualified first responders. Those wages would therefore essentially be tax-free. A definition of a qualified first responder specifically includes paramedics and EMTs who provide services in a county with at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. The language would apply to all paramedics and EMTs regardless of their employer type. The AAA had reached out prior to the introduction of the bill to staff with Congressman Huizenga to ensure that would be the case....

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AAA Sends Letter to HHS on COVID-19 Response

On April 6, the AAA sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Azar requesting that the Department distribute direct payments to all ambulance service providers and suppliers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AAA requested funding under the $100 Billion Public Health and Social Service Emergency Fund, established by the CARES Act, in the amount of $48,000 per ambulance registered as of April 1. The AAA estimates the payments would represent approximately $2.6 billion in desperately-needed relief for our industry. Read the letter HERE....

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