HHS ASPR Project ECHO COVID-19 Clinical Rounds

HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response

  • Peer to Peer Sharing : HHS ASPR, Project ECHO, and the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Centers (NETEC) together support the COVID-19 Clinical Rounds, peer to peer real-time knowledge sharing sessions among front line clinicians on challenges and successes encountered treating COVID-19.
  • Audience of Multidisciplinary Clinicians: Physicians, nurses, and EMS clinicians participate in the Rounds, which continue to focus on critical care, emergency departments, and EMS.
  • Format of Sessions: Each Clinical Rounds session includes brief presentations from experienced expert clinicians complemented by discussion among expert panelists in response to Q&A from participants.
  • Sharing of Experience, Not Official Guidance: Rounds are intended to be the sharing of clinical experience rather than formal recommendations or guidance.
  • Evolving Clinical Round Topics: Topics of Clinical Rounds evolve to address the dynamic COVID-19 medical response.
  • Continuing Medical Education (CME) Credit: Participants can fill out a short survey and receive 1 hour of Continuing Medical Education credit instantly for each session.

6/16 | Federal Interagency Committee on EMS Virtual Meeting

Federal Interagency Committee on EMS to Hold Virtual Meeting on June 16

FICEMS also recently approved a new strategic plan to guide Federal activities related to EMS through 2025

The Federal Interagency Committee on EMS, which coordinates EMS activities throughout the federal government, will hold its first virtual meeting of 2021 on June 16 at 1 pm ET. Members of the public are invited to watch the webcast. Visit the FICEMS meeting page to learn more and view the agenda, or click below to register now. Anyone wishing to provide public comment can email FICEMS@dot.gov with “FICEMS Feedback” in the subject line. There will also be opportunities to ask questions or submit comments via a chat function during the webcast.

Register Now

New FICEMS Strategic Plan

One of the items on the agenda for the next FICEMS meeting is the new FICEMS Strategic Plan, which is now available on EMS.gov. The plan will guide FICEMS and its efforts to support and advance EMS and 911 services in the Nation over the next five years. The plan outlines seven strategic goals, each with multiple objectives, that will serve as the foundation for the activities of FICEMS and its member agencies.

Read the FICEMS strategic plan and learn more about the committee’s vision for Federal support of state, local, tribal and territorial EMS.

Download

NEMSIS 2020 Public-Dataset Now Available

From NEMSIS on May 28, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEMSIS 2020 Public-Dataset Now Available

Salt Lake City, Utah, May 11, 2021 – The National Emergency Medical Services Information System Technical
Assistance Center (NEMSIS TAC) today announced the availability of the 2020 Public-Release Research Dataset,
the largest publicly available dataset of emergency medical service activations in the United States. With this
release, NEMSIS aims to improve understanding of, confidence in, and support for EMS data collection and
analysis that will lead to data being utilized more effectively to improve patient care.

“The 2020 dataset is a powerful asset for researchers looking into all manner of conditions that affect different
aspects of EMS service.,” said Dr. N. Clay Mann, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of
Utah School of Medicine and Principal Investigator for the NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center. “Hopefully, the
information gathered during the COVID-19 pandemic will help give EMS agencies valuable insight on their work
improving EMS services under all sorts of conditions.”

The 2020 Public-Release Research Dataset is a subset of the National EMS Database that is the repository for
EMS data collected from U.S. States and Territories. NEMSIS maintains the national standard for how patient
care information resulting from an emergency 9-1-1 call for medical assistance is collected. The dataset includes
43,488,767 EMS activations submitted by 12,319 EMS agencies servicing 50 states and territories.

Those interested in requesting a copy of the 2020 Public-Release Research Dataset can contact the NEMSIS TAC
and fill out a request form at their website https://nemsis.org/using-ems-data/request-research-data. A
password-protected USB drive containing the dataset, the 2020 NEMSIS Data User Manual, NEMSIS Data
Dictionary v3.4.0, Extended Data Definitions v3.4.0, and sample SAS code file will be sent via postal service.

ABOUT NEMSIS

The National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) is the national health information
exchange and database used to collect and store EMS data from states and territories. NEMSIS is a universal
standard for how patient care information resulting from an emergency 9-1-1 call for medical assistance is
collected. It is a collaborative system to improve patient care through the standardization, aggregation, and
utilization of point-of-care EMS data at a local, state, and national level.
NEMSIS is a program of NHTSA’s Office of EMS and is hosted at the University of Utah.

CNN | Rural ambulance crews are running out of money and volunteers

From CNN on May 22, 2021

Rural ambulance crews are running out of money and volunteers. In some places, the fallout could be nobody responding to a 911 call

America’s rural ambulance services, often sustained by volunteers, are fighting for their survival — a crisis hastened by the impact of Covid-19.

More than one-third of all rural EMS are in danger of closing, according to Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association. “The pandemic has further stretched the resources of our nation’s rural EMS.”

Read Full Article

CMS | Medicare COVID-19 Data Snapshot

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released our monthly update of data that provides a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population. The updated data show over 4.1 million COVID-19 cases among the Medicare population and over 1.1 million COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The updated snapshot covers the period from January 1, 2020 to March 20, 2021. It is based on Medicare Fee-for-Service claims and Medicare Advantage encounter data CMS received by April 16, 2021.

View the Updated Snapshot

NHTSA EMS.gov | EMS Week Video

From NHTSA’s Office of EMS on May 17, 2021

This week, May 16-22, 2021, we once again recognize the people of EMS by celebrating National EMS Week. We hope you’ll take a minute to watch this special message from the entire team here at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of EMS.


This year’s EMS Week theme, “This is EMS: Caring for our Communities,” couldn’t be more appropriate. The past year has been a challenge, but it has also reminded people across the nation just how valuable emergency medical services systems—and most important, clinicians—are to our communities. This nation is in debt to all of the EMS clinicians and the people behind the scenes who show up every day with true professionalism and dedication.

From all of us here at the Office of EMS, NHTSA, and the Department of Transportation: Thank you.

HRSA | Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Update

HRSA | Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Update | May 13, 2021

What’s New

CDC and USDA Team Up for Vaccine Education Effort.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing $9.95 million in funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to improve vaccine confidence in rural areas.  NIFA will work with local partners through the Land Grant University System and its Cooperative Extension System, a nationwide educational network that provides non-formal higher education and learning to farming communities.

HRSA COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will provide claims reimbursement at the national Medicare rate for eligible health care providers administering vaccines to underinsured individuals. This may be particularly helpful in rural communities given higher rates of uninsured and underinsured.

HHS/DoD National Emergency Tele-Critical Care Network.  A joint program of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is available at no cost to hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients and struggling with access to enough critical care physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other specialized clinical experts. Teams of critical care clinicians are available to deliver virtual care through lightweight telemedicine platforms, such as an app on a mobile device. Hear from participating clinicians and email to learn more and sign up.

HHS Coordinates New Effort to Vaccinate Migratory/Seasonal Workers in Agriculture.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is working with several divisions, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to boost vaccination rates in a workforce often at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection.

RAND/RWJF Report:  COVID-19 and the Experiences of Populations at Greater Risk.  The RAND Corporation joined with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to examine the way people view health issues. Researchers asked people in the United States about their experiences related to the pandemic, and their views on issues such as freedom, racism, and the role of government.


COVID-19 Resources

New: FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit ProgramThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created this temporary program to help eligible individuals and households afford internet service during the pandemic. Eligible households can enroll through an approved broadband service provider or by visiting GetEmergencyBroadband.org.  The program will end when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner.

We Can Do This: COVID-19 Public Education Campaign.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced a national effort to help community partners promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence.  The campaign includes educational materials targeted to specific audiences and seeks volunteers for the COVID-19 Community CorpsNew: The Rural Communities Toolkit provides resources for building vaccine confidence.  

Volunteer to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has expanded its definition of persons authorized to give the vaccine.  These include, among others, current and retired traditional and non-traditional health care professionals, and students in health care programs.

HHS Facts About COVID Care for the Uninsured. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) helps uninsured individuals find no-cost COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines.  The HRSA Uninsured Program provides claims reimbursement to health care providers generally at Medicare rates for testing, treating, and administering vaccines to uninsured individuals, including undocumented immigrants.  There are at-a-glance fact sheets for providers and for patients in English and Spanish.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy FAQs for COVID-19.  A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from our grantees and stakeholders.  NewResources for Rural Health Clinics.

COVID-19 FAQs and Funding for HRSA Programs. Find COVID-19-related funding and frequently asked questions for programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions.  Includes information on terms and conditions, attestation, reporting and auditing requirements, general and targeted distributions, and how to report capital equipment purchases.

CDC COVID-19 Updates.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates and guidance, including a section specific to rural health care, a vaccine locator by state, and COVID-19 Vaccination Trainings for new and experienced providers.  NewUpdated Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 vaccination, including new guidance for use in adolescents 12 and older.

CMS Coronavirus Partner Resources.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides information for providers, health plans, state Medicaid programs, and Children’s Health Insurance Programs and holds regular stakeholder calls to provide updates.

HHS Coronavirus Data Hub.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) website includes estimated and reported hospital capacity by state, with numbers updated daily.

NIH Community Engagement Alliance Against  COVID-19 Disparities.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) created a collection of online resources with information for communities hit hardest by the pandemic, such as African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and American Indian/Alaska Natives.

COVID-19 Data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The site provides access to demographic and economic data, including state and local data on at-risk populations, poverty, health insurance coverage, and employment.

ATTC Network COVID-19 Resources for Addictions Treatment. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network was established in 1993 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  The online catalog of COVID-related resources includes regularly-updated guidance and trainings for professionals in the field.

GHPC’s Collection of Rural Health Strategies for COVID-19.  The FORHP-supported Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) provides reports, guidance, and innovative strategies gleaned from their technical assistance and peer learning sessions with FORHP grantees.  New: The Impact of Rural Residence on COVID-19 Disparities.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Counties.  The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis provides up-to-date data on rural and urban confirmed cases throughout the United States.  An animated map shows the progression of cases beginning March 26, 2020 to the present.

Rural Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019.  The Rural Health Information Hub has a compendium of rural-specific activities and guidelines, including Rural Healthcare Surge Readiness, a tool with resources for responding to a local surge in cases.

SAMHSA Training and Technical Assistance Related to COVID-19.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created this list of resources, tools, and trainings for behavioral health and recovery providers.

Mobilizing Health Care Workforce via Telehealth.  ProviderBridge.org was created by the Federation of State Medical Boards through the CARES Act and the FORHP-supported Licensure Portability Program. The site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing by state as well as a provider portal to connect volunteer health care professionals to state agencies and health care entities.

Online Resource for Licensure of Health Professionals.  Created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, the site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing in each state for psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists assistants, and social workers. 


Funding and Opportunities

Nurse Corps Scholarship Program – extended to May 26. The Nurse Corps Scholarship Program provides financial support to students enrolled in nursing degree programs in exchange for a commitment to serve in high-need areas across the country. This year, Nurse Corps has additional funding for qualified nursing students that includes tuition, fees, other reasonable educational costs, and a monthly living stipend.

DOJ National Tribal Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault – June 3. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make one award for $980,000 to an organization that can provide nationwide training and technical assistance for response to sexual assault crimes and services for victims in American Indian/Alaska Native communities.

DOJ Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-Based Program – June 7. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 110 awards with total funding of $163 million to support state, local, tribal, and territorial response to use of illicit substances.  A subcategory of the program will award up to $600,000 each for projects in rural areas, small counties, and tribal areas with a population of fewer than 100,000 for a federally recognized tribe.

HRSA Rural Northern Border Region Planning Program – June 14. The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) will make approximately four awards of up to $190,000 each to support health care needs in underserved rural communities of the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) service area.

DOJ Second Chance Act Youth Offender Reentry Program – June 15.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 13 awards of up to $750,000 each to support youth returning to their communities from correctional facilities.  The program encourages collaboration between state agencies, local government, and community- and faith-based organizations.  Separately, the DOJ will make approximately 15 awards of up to $750,000 each for the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program – June 15.

USDA Local Food Promotion Program – June 21.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make grants of up to $200,000 each for planning grants, and up to $750,000 for implementation grants.  Grant recipients will create or expand projects that increase the availability of locally produced food.

DOJ Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence – June 22.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates eight awards with total investment of $7 million to support community-level strategies for children exposed to violence.  Priority consideration will be given to applications promoting civil rights, building trust between law enforcement and the community, and that are intended to benefit high poverty areas.

HUD Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS – July 6.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will make 18 awards of up to $2.25 million each for community projects that provide housing for people with HIV/AIDS in underserved areas. Rural populations are among those of interest for ensuring health equity. Also known as Housing as an Intervention to Fight AIDS, the program aims to create housing and service models that can be replicated in other similar localities.


Rural Health Research

Research in this section is provided by the HRSA/FORHP-supported Rural Health Research Gateway.  Sign up to receive alerts when new publications become available. 

Medicare-Paid Naloxone: Trends in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Areas.  Previous research has found that Medicare paid for an increasing share of naloxone prescriptions from 2016 to 2018 and pays for 1/3 of all naloxone dispensed from retail pharmacies as of 2018.  This brief from the Rural and Underserved Health Research Center examines trends in Medicare-paid naloxone dispensing rates in nonmetropolitan versus metropolitan areas from 2014 to 2018.


Policy Updates

Visit the FORHP Policy page to see all recent updates and send questions to ruralpolicy@hrsa.gov.

Request for Information on Advancing Equity and Support for Underserved Communities – Comments due July 6.  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) seeks input from a broad array of stakeholders in the public, private, advocacy, not-for-profit, and philanthropic sectors, including State, local, Tribal, and territorial areas, on available methods, approaches, and tools that the Government can use to promote equity and support underserved communities.

Increased Medicare payment for COVID-19 monoclonal antibody infusions.  The Centers and Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) announced last week an increase in the national average payment rate for administering monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 from $310 to $450 for most health care settings.  Additionally, they have established a higher national payment rate of $750 for monoclonal antibody treatments administered in a beneficiary’s home, including the beneficiary’s permanent residence or temporary lodging.  CMS is updating its COVID-19 toolkits for providers, states, and insurers to reflect this change.

Medicare Guidance on Interoperability Rule Requirements for Hospitals.   This interpretive guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlines the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) requiring hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to send electronic patient event notifications of a patient’s admission, discharge, and/or transfer to another healthcare facility or to another community provider or practitioner, which are effective as of May 1, 2021.  These CoPs were finalized in the May 2020 Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule and are addressed in the recently released Interoperability Final Rule FAQs.

Medicare Waiver for Ambulance Treatment in Place.  This Fact Sheet describes the circumstances in which ground ambulance services may be reimbursed by Medicare for treatment provided in place because a patient was not able to be transported to a destination permitted under Medicare regulations due to community-wide emergency medical service (EMS) protocols due to the COVID-19 PHE.  This waiver is retroactively effective to March 1, 2020.


Learning Events and Technical Assistance

ONDCP Workshop for SUD: Rural Faith-Based Leaders – Thursday, May 13 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) will hold a second session (90 minutes) in its series for faith leaders in rural areas.  The workshops are meant to increase understanding of substance use disorder (SUD) and provide guidance on connecting faith to prevention, treatment, and recovery.  If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Betty-Ann Bryce, Special Advisor for Rural Affairs at MBX.ONDCP.RuralAffairs@ondcp.eop.gov with your name, title, organization, state/county, and contact information/email address. The Rural Health Information Hub has a recording of the first workshop for faith leaders in its Community Toolbox for SUD.

MATRC: Answering Questions About Telehealth and Telemental Health – Friday, May 14 at 12:00 pm ET.  The Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC) holds a live, two-hour event to answer questions about the basics.  The MATRC is one of 14 FORHP-Supported Telehealth Resource Centers.  This is a recurring session taking place every other Friday from 12:00 to 2:00 pm ET.

HRSA Telehealth Series: Learn About Licensure Compacts – Monday, May 17 at 12:30 pm ET.  Experts from the National Center for Interstate Compacts will discuss agreements for doctors, nurses, psychologists and other clinicians to see patients across state lines via telehealth.

SBIRT for SUD Native American Communities – Tuesday, May 18 at 11:00 am ET.  Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a process to quickly assess substance use disorder (SUD) in a person and move them toward more extensive treatment.  This hour-long session is hosted by the National American Indian & Alaska Native Prevention Technology Transfer Center.

AgriSafe: Zoonotic Disease and Pregnancy – Wednesday, May 19 at 1:00 pm ET.  The AgriSafe Network will hold a one-hour session to explain the risk that diseases transmitted between farm animals and humans pose to pregnant women.

Overcoming Mental Health Stigma in Rural Communities – Wednesday, May 19 at 2:00 pm ET.  The Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network will host a one-hour workshop to discuss what influences negative attitudes toward mental health and techniques to overcome various forms of stigma.

Assessment of Opioid Misuse Risk Among Farmers in the Clinical Setting – Friday, May 21 at 1:00 pm ET. The AgriSafe Network will host an hour-long webinar to provide insight on misuse risk factors and warning signs among farmers.

SAMHSA Connecting Prevention Specialists to Native Communities – Friday, May 21 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) holds virtual trainings to cover topics such as crisis response, youth engagement, and sexual assault awareness.  Trainings will take place on the third Friday of each month.


Resource of the Week

Successful COVID-19 Messaging in Rural CommunitiesIn this 30-minute video, the state leadership in West Virginia present insight from their research and vaccine outreach campaign.


Approaching Deadlines

CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Surveillance – extended to May 14 (from April 25)

Park and Recreation Mentorship Grants for Rural Youth Impacted by Opioids – May 15

ARC Investments Supporting Partnerships/Recovery Ecosystems – Letters of Intent May 17

CDC Drug Free Communities – extended to May 17 (from May 10)

Cross-Jurisdictional Sharing in Public Health: Small Grants Program – May 17

EPA Technical Assistance for Wastewater Treatment – May 17

SAMHSA Overdose Treatment for Use by First Responders – May 17

HRSA Expanding Community-Based Workforce for COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach – May 18

Comments Requested:  Proposed Changes to the Census Bureau Definition of Urban – May 20

CMS Primary Care First Model Cohort 2 – extended to May 21 (from April 30)

CDC Community Health Workers for COVID Response – May 24

New Sites for National Health Service Corps (NHSC) – May 25

Native American Agriculture Fund Grants for Youth – May 25

Nurse Corps Scholarship Program – extended to May 26

HR2454 | Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2021

From Representative Terri Sewell

Rep. Sewell Introduces Legislation to Protect Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services for Rural and Underserved Communities

Washington, D.C. – This Congress, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), along with Reps. Devin Nunes (CA-22), Peter Welch (VT-AL), and Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), introduced H.R. 2454, the Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2021. The bill would ensure that ambulance service providers, including rural providers and those in underserved communities, are able to continue delivering quality critical first responder and health care services.

“When tragedy strikes and medical emergencies happen, we should feel confident that our first responders have the resources they need to deliver life-saving care,” said Rep. Sewell. “Unfortunately, inadequate Medicare reimbursement rates are putting a strain on ambulance service providers in the most vulnerable communities across the country and making it harder for them to care for our neighbors.”

“The problem is particularly severe for rural communities and has been worsened by the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic,” continued Sewell. “That is why I am proud to introduce the Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2021. This bill would permanently adjust Medicare reimbursement practices so that vital ambulance services remain vibrant and available to all Americans.”

“This bipartisan bill includes key reforms to ensure that rural Americans are not harmed by the delay in updating the Medicare ground ambulance fee schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Nunes, Lead Republican Co-Sponsor. “Extending these temporary Medicare ground ambulance add-on payments for another five years and expanding coverage for those who live in zip codes with fewer than 1,000 people per square mile will keep ambulance costs affordable for Americans when they need ground ambulance transportation.”

“Rural ambulance services save lives and provide needed care in underserved areas every day,” said Rep. Peter Welch, Lead Democratic Co-Sponsor. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that patients in rural areas have access to critical ambulance services and that the providers of these services receive fair, consistent reimbursement for their important work. It’s time for Congress to pass this bill and give ambulance services the certainty they need to continue serving all Americans.”

“Ambulance services are critically important to rural Americans who may live close to an hour away from the nearest emergency room,” said Rep. Mullin, Lead Republican Co-Sponsor. “Providing this care literally means the difference between life and death for many people. As we continue to battle the closures of critical access hospitals across Oklahoma, ambulance services are more important now than ever before. We must ensure that rural Americans receive the care they need. I’m proud to join my colleagues in support of this bill which would enhance and increase resources for first responders in Oklahoma.”

Currently, ambulance service providers across the country are reimbursed by Medicare at rates below the cost of providing services, as determined by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Consequently, providers rely on “add-on” payments to continue providing services. Add-on payments vary depending on whether a provider is located in an urban, rural, or “super rural” ZIP Code.

Congress has extended current add-on payment rates through December 31, 2022, and planned to review Medicare cost data in considering whether they should be made permanent. However, due to the upcoming ZIP Code reclassification which will occur following the 2020 Census, providers are faced with uncertainty regarding the future of these payments. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to delay the first two rounds of data collection, compounding this uncertainty.

Background on the Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2021

H.R. 2454, the Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2021, would end the band-aid approach and make permanent adjustments to the reimbursement methodology for services in urban, rural, and “super rural” areas by building the temporary add-ons into the base rate fee. Specifically, it would extend the current temporary Medicare ground ambulance increases of 2% urban, 3% rural, and the super rural bonus payments for five years and would ensure that rural zip codes continue to be classified as rural following the ZIP Code reclassification.

These payments are vital to the financial viability of the ambulance community and have been extended numerous times on a bipartisan basis, most recently for 5 years. This five-year extension would allow a new data cost collection system time to be put into place and collect meaningful data following the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“NRHA applauds Representative Terri Sewell for her leadership in working to preserve ground ambulance services in rural America. Throughout the pandemic ambulance services have provided critical first responder services in our most rural communities. Passing H.R. 2454, the Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2021, is critical to ensuring that these important services remain in their communities long after the public health emergency,” said Alan Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Association.

“The Alabama Rural Health Association lends its full support behind the ‘Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2021’ (H.R. 2454).  As rural EMS transportation is one of the greatest challenges for quality access to care in rural Alabama, support is greatly needed to reinforce the existing emergency transportation system.  With additional funding and flexibility created in the system, states like Alabama will have the ability to provide improved emergency transportation in critically rural and underserved areas and allow patients to receive the care that they need in a timely manner.  We are thankful for Rep. Sewell’s introduction of this language, and we encourage support for H.R. 2454,” said Ryan Kelly, Administrator of the Alabama Rural Health Association. 

The legislation is also supported by the following organizations:

  • American Ambulance Association (AAA)
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
  • International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
  • National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT)
  • National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)

H.R. 2454 can be found here.

Thank you to Representatives Rep. Terri Sewell, Congressman Devin Nunes, Peter Welch, and Congressman Markwayne Mullin…

May 6, 2021
Press Release

 

CMS | Sequestration | Claims Hold Lifted

CMS Confirms Suspension of Medicare Sequester Through End of 2021; Announces Lifting of Claims Hold

On April 16, 2021, CMS published a notice on the MLNConnects webpage announcing the passage of the Act to Prevent Across-the-Board Direct Spending Cuts, and for Other Purposes. The law, enacted on April 14, 2021 extends the suspension of the Medicare “sequester” through December 31, 2021.

In anticipation of the legislation’s passage, CMS announced on March 30, 2021 that it had instructed its Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to hold Medicare Fee-For-Service claims with dates of service on or after April 1, 2021. With the passage of the bill, CMS further indicated that it has instructed its MACs to release any claims currently being held, and to reprocess any claims paid with the sequester applied. CMS indicated that no action is required on the part of health care providers and suppliers.

ASPR TRACIE Newsletter April 2021

From HHS ASPR TRACIE Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Information Gateway

This issue of The Express highlights the following new/updated resources:

Please continue to access our Novel Coronavirus Resources Page, the National Institutes of Health Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Treatment Guidelines, and CDC’s Coronavirus webpage, and reach out if you need technical assistance (TA).

New: COVID-19 and the Changing Healthcare Delivery Landscape (Speaker Series)
Paul Biddinger, MD, FACEP, Medical Director, Emergency Preparedness, Mass General Brigham; Mark Jarrett, MD, MBA, MS, Chief Quality Officer, SVP & Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Northwell Health; and Meghan Treber, MS, ICF TRACIE Program Director, HHS ASPR highlight the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare delivery (e.g., supply chain, patients delaying emergency care, the delay of elective procedures, and financial impacts to the healthcare system) in this brief recording. Access the rest of the Healthcare Operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic speaker series for more information.
Updated: Healthcare Delivery Impacts Tip Sheet and Summary Document
This updated tip sheet describes the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19 related community mitigation measures on the healthcare system, including morbidity and mortality from chronic health conditions and lack of access. The accompanying summary document can help healthcare system planners prepare to mitigate these potential healthcare delivery impacts.
New: Acute Care Delivery at Home Tip Sheet
Some healthcare providers and systems have been providing hospital-level care in patient’s homes for years; others have implemented acute care delivery at home models in response to overcrowding at hospitals due to COVID-19. This tip sheet provides an overview of characteristics of various types of acute care delivery at home programs to help healthcare providers better understand this care model.
Issue 12: COVID-19 and Healthcare Professional Stress and Resilience
The articles in Issue 12 of The Exchange focus on three categories: understanding acute and chronic stressors in the healthcare worker population, identifying at-risk employees, and promising practices in building resilience. Be on the lookout for Issue 13, which will focus on the significant contributions made by supportive care providers and healthcare engineering representatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mind Over Matter: Strategies to Help Combat the Coronavirus Blues
This document (created by the COVID-19 Schools Task Force, FEMA Region VII, and HHS Region 7) summarizes the contents of the Mind Over Matter Resource Guide, which can be used to support messaging for college and university campus communities to help combat COVID-19 fatigue and promote general wellness, both during and after the pandemic.
UCSD Health Medical Cyber Disaster Preparedness Study
The University of California San Diego (UCSD) is interested in better understanding how cybersecurity and cyber attacks impact our hospital systems and how we can better prepare in the future. This brief survey will provide a basic understanding of where we stand nationally on healthcare cyber preparedness. Your responses will be kept confidential and all data will be deidentified and reported in FEMA regions. The survey should take approximately five minutes to complete. You will receive no compensation for your participation and participation in this research is voluntary. The principal investigator of this study can be contacted at:

 

Dr. Christian Dameff, MD

University of California San Diego

Department of Emergency Medicine

200 W. Arbor Dr. #8676

San Diego, CA 92103

 

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice are a collaborative effort between ASPR, the National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education Center (NETEC), and Project ECHO. These interactive virtual learning sessions aim to create a peer-to-peer learning network where clinicians from the U.S. and abroad who have experience treating patients with COVID-19 share their challenges and successes; a generous amount of time for participant Q & A is also provided. These webinar topics are covered every week:

  1. EMS: Patient Care and Operations (Mondays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)
  2. Critical Care: Lifesaving Treatment and Clinical Operations (Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)
  3. Emergency Department: Patient Care and Clinical Operations (Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 PM ET)

Access previous webinars and special topic sessions and sign up today to receive information on upcoming events.

CMS | 4/13 Webinar | HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program

From CMS on April 12, 2021

Upcoming Webinar for Providers on the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program: Interested in learning more about the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program? Participating providers are reimbursed at Medicare rates for testing, treating and administering COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured individuals.

Providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing to uninsured individuals, provided treatment for uninsured individuals with a COVID_19 diagnosis on or after February 4, 2020, or administered COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured individuals can begin the process to file claims for reimbursement. Providers can familiarize themselves with this process at https://www.hrsa.gov/coviduninsuredclaim, and learn more and file claims at https://coviduninsuredclaim.linkhealth.com/. Providers can also view Frequently Asked Questions about the program.

Join us on Tuesday April 13, 2021 at 2PM ET for an informational webinar.

Register Now

Feel free to share this with others who may be interested!

2019 National EMS Scope of Practice Model, Change Notices

Download Change Notice

Date:               March 29, 2021

To:                  State EMS Directors

From:              Jon R. Krohmer, M.D., FACEP, Director, Office of Emergency Medical Services

RE:                  2019 National EMS Scope of Practice Model, Change Notices

The National EMS Scope of Practice Model (model) was first published in February 2007 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Office of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The most recent version of the model was published by NHTSA in February 2019. The model was developed by the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) with funding provided by NHTSA and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Over the past 14 years, the model has provided guidance for States in developing their EMS Scope of Practice legislation, rules, and regulation. While the model provides national guidance, each State maintains the authority to regulate EMS within its border, and determine the scope of practice of State-licensed EMS clinicians.

Recognizing that the model may impact States’ ability to urgently update their Scope of Practice rules, in 2016 the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) recommended that NHTSA develop a standardized urgent update process for the model. The Rapid Process for Emergent Changes to the National EMS Scope of Practice Model (rapid process) was developed by NASEMSO and published by NHTSA in September 2018.

Using the rapid process, in March 2021 NHTSA convened a subject matter expert panel (panel) to respond to the following questions: 1) Should immunizations via the intramuscular (IM) route be added to the emergency medical responder (EMR) and emergency medical technician (EMT) scope of practice levels?; 2) Should monoclonal antibody (MCA) infusion be added to the advanced EMT (AEMT) and paramedic scope of practice levels?; and 3) Should specimen collection via nasal swabbing be added to the EMR, EMT, AEMT, and paramedic scope of practice levels?

The panel considered the ability of EMRs and EMTs to perform the psychomotor skill of medication administration via the IM route and recommended that IM medication administration be added only to the EMT scope of practice as part of their common daily practice.

The panel considered the ability of EMRs and EMTs to administer medical director approved immunizations and recommended that immunizations during a public health emergency be added only to the EMT scope of practice.

The panel considered the ability of EMRs, EMTs, AEMTs, and Paramedics to perform the psychomotor skill of specimen collection via nasal swab and recommended that specimen collection via nasal swab be added only to the EMT, AEMT, and Paramedic scopes of practice as part of their common daily practice.

The panel did not issue a recommendation on MCA infusion.

Based on the panel’s recommendations NHTSA used the rapid process to develop the two attached change notices on IM medication administration, vaccinations during a public health emergency, and specimen collection via nasal swab.

It should be noted that, although the recommendations address the psychomotor skills associated with these specific activities, the assumption of the panel in making the recommendations was that all associated educational activities, knowledge of indications and potential contraindications, other potential skills (e.g.: drawing the appropriate dose of medication up from an ampule or vial [single or multi-dose], supervised assessment of skill competency, and quality improvement activities) would be components of the entire program.

I hope you find these change notices useful to you in meeting the urgent needs of your patients and the practitioners you regulate. In the very near future we will publish a revised version of the model which incorporates these change notices. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

Download Change Notice

CMS | Repayment of COVID-19 Accelerated & Advance Payments Began 3/30

Repayment of COVID-19 Accelerated and Advance Payments Began on March 30, 2021

CMS issued information about repayment of COVID-19 accelerated and advance payments. If you requested these payments, learn how and when we’ll recoup them:

  • Identify payments we recovered
  • Prepare your billing staff

More Information:

NAEMT Survey | Impact of COVID-19

A year has passed since NAEMT released a national survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 survey captured real time data on how EMS agencies and fire departments were being affected by the pandemic. It allowed NAEMT to share with elected officials the story of EMS, serving on the frontlines of this public health crisis. This data motivated Congress, state legislatures, and government agencies to take action to support EMS.

We believe that EMS agency and fire department leaders should be surveyed again to collect data on how the last twelve months of the pandemic have affected their workforce, finances, operations, equipment and supplies.

We kindly ask for less than 10 minutes of your time to respond to this survey to help us provide a clear picture for federal and state leaders on the areas of greatest concern that need to be addressed.

Take NAEMT Survey

To collect and analyze the data in a timely fashion, we ask that you complete this short survey by Monday, April 19. Please be sure that only one leader from your agency completes the survey.

Thank you for your continued dedication to advancing EMS.

Sincerely,

Bruce Evans, MPA, NRP, CFO, SPO

President, NAEMT