CMS Will Pay for COVID-19 Booster Shots, Eligible Consumers Can Receive at No Cost

From CMS on September 24, 2021

CMS Will Pay for COVID-19 Booster Shots, Eligible Consumers Can Receive at No Cost

Coverage without cost-sharing available for eligible people with Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and Most Commercial Health Insurance Coverage

Following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent action that authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for certain high-risk populations and a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will continue to provide coverage for this critical protection from the virus, including booster doses, without cost sharing.

Beneficiaries with Medicare pay nothing for COVID-19 vaccines or their administration, and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance or deductible. In addition, thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), nearly all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries must receive coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and their administration, without cost-sharing. COVID-19 vaccines and their administration, including boosters, will also be covered without cost-sharing for eligible consumers of most issuers of health insurance in the commercial market. People can visit vaccines.gov (English) or vacunas.gov (Spanish) to search for vaccines nearby.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has made the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines accessible and free to people across the country. CMS is ensuring that cost is not a barrier to access, including for boosters,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “CMS will pay Medicare vaccine providers who administer approved COVID-19 boosters, enabling people to access these vaccines at no cost.”

CMS continues to explore ways to ensure maximum access to COVID-19 vaccinations. More information regarding the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Requirements and how the COVID-19 vaccine is provided through that program at no cost to recipients is available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/vaccination-provider-support.html and through the CMS COVID-19 Provider Toolkit.

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EMS.gov | EMS Medical Director Survey

EMS and 911 Physician Medical Directors Invited to Participate in Workforce Assessment Survey

National Association of EMS Physicians conducting a national, anonymous survey of EMS, 911, fire and law enforcement medical directors

The National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) is conducting the first national EMS Physician Medical Directors Workforce Assessment in the United States. All physician medical directors for EMS and air medical services, 911/Emergency Medical Dispatch centers, fire services, and law enforcement departments are encouraged to complete this anonymous survey to help create a comprehensive picture of pre-hospital physician medical leadership. The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete and will close on October 4, 2021.

Take the survey 

The results, which will be shared by NAEMSP, will help national, state and local EMS and 911 organizations identify physician employment trends, address training and professional needs, and inform policy and advocacy efforts in support of all prehospital medical directors.

“Thousands of physician EMS Medical Directors currently provide EMS system oversight to ensure high-quality, safe and effective patient care across the country,” says NAEMSP President Michael Levy, MD, FAEMS, FACEP, FACP. “It’s important that we get an accurate picture of physician medical directors’ professional needs so we can do our best to address them.”

“The role of the medical director is key in ensuring effective pre-hospital patient care,” says Jon Krohmer, MD, FACEP, FAEMS, director of the NHTSA Office of EMS. “More data about the many aspects of medical direction will help NAEMSP, the NHTSA Office of EMS, and our Federal partner agencies better engage with the physicians who guide first responder and EMS clinician patient interactions by ground, air medical, law enforcement, and 911 professionals.”

CMS | National Stakeholder Call with the Administrator

You are invited to join the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS), Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, and her leadership team, to hear key updates from her first 100 days in office. The Administrator’s vision is for CMS to serve the public as a trusted partner and steward, dedicated to advancing health equity, expanding coverage, and improving health outcomes. We invite you to join us for this first national stakeholder call to learn more about how you can partner with us as we implement our vision.

When:   September 17, 2021 from 12:30 PM ET – 1:00 PM ET

Speakers:  

  • CMS Administrator, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure
  • CMS Leadership team

Who should attend: National and local stakeholders and partners

To Join the Call Click Here: https://cms.zoomgov.com/j/1605025285?pwd=VW5vb0RUbG1RMFFPWllxbGtRYlF5QT09

Questions:  We want to hear from you. Questions can be submitted in advance of the webinar by emailing Partnership@cms.hhs.gov

HHS: Availability of Add’l $25.5 Billion in COVID-19 Provider Funding

HHS Announces the Availability of $25.5 Billion in COVID-19 Provider Funding

This morning the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it will be making $25.5 billion in new funding available for healthcare providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding, available through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will include $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources for providers who serve rural Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare patients, and an additional $17 billion for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 for a broad range of providers who can document revenue loss and expenses associated with the pandemic.

Getting additional financial relief for ground ambulance service providers who are still struggling from the lost revenue and increased expenditures resulting from being on the frontlines of responding to the pandemic has been a top priority for the AAA. The AAA along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Firefighters, National Associations of EMTs and National Volunteer Fire Association have continually pressed HHS to release the remaining funds. We strongly encourage all AAA members to submit an application regardless of whether you have applied for previous rounds of funding.

Consistent with the requirements included in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, PRF Phase 4 payments will be based on providers’ lost revenues and expenditures between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021 (Q3 – Q4 2020 and Q1 2021). The PRF Phase 4 will reimburse smaller providers, who tend to operate on thin margins and often serve vulnerable or isolated communities, for their lost revenues and COVID-19 expenses at a higher rate compared to larger providers. PRF Phase 4 will also include bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, CHIP, and/or Medicare patients, who tend to be lower- income and have greater and more complex medical needs. HRSA will price these bonus payments at the generally higher Medicare rates to ensure equity for those serving low-income children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and seniors.

Consistent with the focus of the ARPA, HRSA will make ARPA rural payments to providers based on the amount of Medicaid, CHIP, and/or Medicare services they provide to patients who live in rural areas as defined by the HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. As rural providers serve a disproportionate number of Medicaid and CHIP patients who often have disproportionately greater and more complex medical needs, many rural communities have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Accordingly, ARP rural payments will also generally be based on Medicare reimbursement rates.

In the announcement, HHS stated that it would “expedite and streamline” the application process and minimize administrative burdens, providers will apply for both programs in a single application. HRSA will use existing Medicaid, CHIP and Medicare claims data in calculating payments. The application portal will open on September 29, 2021. HHS has stated that to ensure that these provider relief funds are used for patient care, PRF recipients will be required to notify the HHS Secretary of any merger with, or acquisition of, another health care provider during the period in which they can use the payments. They have stated that providers who report a merger or acquisition may be more likely to be audited to confirm their funds were used for coronavirus-related costs.

To promote transparency in the PRF program, HHS also released detailed information about the methodology utilized to calculate PRF Phase 3 payments. Providers who believe their PRF Phase 3 payment was not calculated correctly according to this methodology will now have an opportunity to request a reconsideration. HHS announced that additional details on the PRF Phase 3 reconsideration process will be released at a later date.

In addition, many of you attended the PRF Reporting Q&A AAA webinar yesterday with Asbel Montes, Brian Werfel, and Scott Moore.  HHS has acknowledged the challenges facing many providers across the country due to recent natural disasters and the Delta variant, HHS announced a final 60-day grace period to help providers come into compliance with their PRF Reporting requirements if they fail to meet the deadline on September 30, 2021. While the deadlines to use funds and the Reporting Time Period will not change, HHS will not initiate collection activities or similar enforcement actions for non-compliant providers during this grace period.

Members can access more information about eligibility requirements, the documents and information providers will need to complete their application, and the application process for PRF Phase 4 and ARP Rural payments by visiting the HRSA website.

The combined application for American Rescue Plan rural funding and Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 will open on September 29, 2021.  Like we have done with the previous rounds of HHS funding, we encourage all ambulance service providers to submit an application for this Phase 4 funding.  If you have questions regarding this or any COVID-19 related questions, please contact hello@ambulance.org.

Biden Issues Exec Orders Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations

The Biden Administration Issues Several Executive Orders Requiring Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination

On September 9, 2021, the Biden Administration issued several Executive Orders which impact more than 100 million workers in an effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic.  The two Executive Orders, Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees and Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors were highlighted during a Presidential press conference.

During his announcement, President Biden said that there are more than 80 million Americans, who are not vaccinated.  As a result he stated that “it is essential that Federal employees take all available steps to protect themselves and avoid spreading COVID-19 to their co-workers and members of the public.”  Additionally, the President stated he issued these orders “to promote the health and safety of the Federal workforce and the efficiency of the civil service, it is necessary to require COVID-19 vaccination for all Federal employees, subject to such exceptions as required by law.”

The orders will require that all Federal employees and employees of Federal Contractors mandate vaccination.  The President stated that if businesses and individuals want to work with the federal government, they must be vaccinated.  Under the order, The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force), will issue guidance to all covered agencies consistent with these Orders within seven (7) days.

The President also announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL) will be issuing emergency rules that will require employers of 100 or more employees to require vaccination or mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for all workers.  Additionally, the President announced that he is expanding requirements for employers to provide paid leave to employees so that they can obtain the COVID-19 vaccinations.  He provided no details on how much the paid leave requirement will be expanded.

Lastly, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will be expanding the vaccination requirements for healthcare facilities that bill Medicare.  Currently, the Biden Administration requires that all long-term care staff working for facilities that bill Medicare must be vaccinated against COVID-19.  In the latest announcement, CMS stated that it will be expanding the mandatory vaccination requirements to other Medicare-certified facilities, including hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies, and others, as a condition for participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  CMS is developing an Interim Final Rule with Comment Period that will be issued sometime in October.

The President’s expanded COVID-19 plan follows numerous states, such as Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts, and several others that have already enacted mandatory vaccination requirements for healthcare, county or municipal, and long-term care workers.  Many of states that have enacted mandatory vaccination requirements provided for no vaccination exceptions, or made provisions for medical exceptions to the vaccination requirements.

We will not know the specific vaccine mandate requirements under these new rules until the Task Force, the U.S. DOL, and CMS publishes these emergency rules.  It is important for employers to understand that they are still required to engage any employee seeking an accommodation from the mandatory vaccination requirements in the interactive process as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  We recommend employers follow a consistent documented process and seek legal advice when handling any accommodation requests.

We will continue to monitor developments with these new requirements.  Be sure to contact the AAA if you have questions about these Executive Orders or need assistance in ensuring you are in compliance.

HHS/ASPR Project ECHO COVID-19 Clinical Rounds

From HHS/ASPR – Project ECHO COVID Clinical Rounds

COVID-19 CLINICAL ROUNDS
A Peer-to-Peer Virtual Community of Practice

We Are Back!
Thank you for your support in the HHS/ASPR – Project ECHO COVID Clinical Rounds.To sign up for emails regarding upcoming HHS/ASPR COVID-19 sessions, please click here!
You will be redirected to a page that will allow you to opt into an email list serve that will keep you up to date with our weekly sessions. 

Resources from past sessions are below

*Regional Ebola and Other Special Pathogen Treatment Centers
Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts)
New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation/HHC Bellevue Hospital Center (New York City, New York)
Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore, Maryland)
Emory University Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta/Egleston Children’s Hospital (Atlanta, Georgia)
University of Minnesota Medical Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (Galveston, Texas)
Nebraska Medicine – Nebraska Medical Center (Omaha, Nebraska)
Denver Health Medical Center (Denver, Colorado)
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles, California)
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital (Spokane, Washington)
Resources

AAMC COVID-19 Clinical Guidance Repository:
https://www.aamc.org/covid-19-clinical-guidance-repository

ASPR’s Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) Novel Coronavirus Resources:
https://asprtracie.hhs.gov/covid-19

CDC COVID-19 Resources for Health Care Professionals:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/index.html

NETEC, the National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education Center:
https://netec.org/

SCCM COVID-19 Guidelines:
https://www.sccm.org/SurvivingSepsisCampaign/Guidelines/COVID-19

WHO COVID-19 Technical Guidance:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance

WHO COVID-19 Situation Reports:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports

Please be mindful of COVID-2019 infection prevention and control, try to limit numbers of people joining this learning session from one gathering place and practice social distancing.
WHO guidance on getting workplaces ready for COVID-2019

Special Sessions

Transitions of Care – August 4
Update on Remdesivir and Dexamethasone – Oct 1
Home Health, EMS, Emergency Department and Critical Care – Oct 29

Monoclonal Antibodies – Dec 3

Crisis Care Update – Dec 10

100th Session – Dec 15

For resources and recordings of earlier sessions, visit the Project ECHO website

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds: Critical Care Resources

Feb 2 – System Level Surge Staffing and Resilience Strategies

Jan 26 – System Level Surge Capacity: Crucial Strategies

For earlier presentations and recordings, please visit the Project ECHO COVID-19 Webpage

COVID-19 Clinical Rounds: Emergency Department Resources

Feb 4 – ED Update

Jan 28 – ED Nursing Update

For earlier presentations and recordings, please visit the Project ECHO COVID-19 Webpage
COVID-19 Clinical Rounds: EMS Resources

Feb 1 – EMS Involvement in Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Programs

Jan 25 – COVID-19 and Riots

For earlier presentations and recordings, please visit the Project ECHO COVID-19 Webpage
Please direct any additional questions or concerns to
C19echo@salud.unm.eduFor help with connecting, please call (505) 750-4897 or email echoit@salud.unm.edu
ECHO is a movement to demonopolize knowledge and amplify the capacity to provide best practice care for underserved people all over the world.

Interstate Commission for EMS Personnel Practice Selects Ray Mollers as its Executive Director

National Partner Release, September 1, 2021
From the Interstate Commission for EMS Personnel Practice
For Additional Information, Contact:  Dan Manz, Educator, dmanz@emscompact.gov

Interstate Commission for EMS Personnel Practice selects Ray Mollers as its Executive Director

The Interstate Commission for EMS Personnel Practice (ICEMSPP) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Ray Mollers as its first Executive Director. Mr. Mollers will be Commission’s principal administrator and responsible for the day-to-day management of the EMS Compact while leading growth, strengthening operations, and increasing collaboration with state and federal EMS officials, partner organizations, and stakeholders.

Ray joins the EMS Compact team after serving as the Director of Stakeholder Partnerships with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). During his time at the National Registry, he managed stakeholder relationships and led the creation of a team responsible for enhancing partnerships, improving collaboration amongst EMS professionals, and increasing communication with stakeholders and State EMS Offices. Prior to the National Registry, he served our nation with 32 years of combined Federal service with the US Army Special Forces and Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs.

“Today, over 300,000 EMS personnel in the United States have a multi-state privilege to practice”, said Joseph Schmider, Chairperson of the ICEMSPP Executive Committee. “With over 20 participating states, it was evident that the EMS Compact needed a full time Executive Director. Ray is an accomplished, humble professional. He was involved with the initial conceptual discussions of an EMS Compact a decade ago and has remained a key advocate since. Ray understands the EMS Compact – its purpose and history – and has established relationships with State EMS Offices and other key national partners.”

“I am so honored and excited to carry forward all the hard work done to date and shepherd the EMS Compact into its next chapter,” says Mr. Mollers.

Ray will start his service as the EMS Compact’s Executive Director on September 20, 2021.  Dan Manz, the EMS Compact’s Educator is retiring, but will continue working in that position through the end of 2021 to assure a smooth transition.

For more information visit EMSCompact.gov.

CMS Announces Timeline for National Expansion of Prior Authorization for Repetitive, Scheduled Non-Emergency Ambulance Transportation

On August 26, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its proposed timeline for the national expansion of the Prior Authorization Model for Repetitive, Scheduled Non-Emergent Ambulance Transports (RSNAT).  The formal notice appeared in the Federal Register on August 27, 2021.

Background

In December 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a prior authorization model for payment of repetitive, scheduled non-emergent ambulance transportation.  Under this Model, ambulance suppliers are required to seek and obtain prior authorization for the transportation of repetitive patients beyond the third round-trip in a 30-day period.  Absent prior authorization, the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) are required to subject further claims to prepayment review.

The Model was initially implemented in three states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.  These “Year 1” states were selected based on relatively high per-capita expenditures on RSNAT.  The Model was subsequently expanded in January 2016 to five additional states (Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia) and to District of Columbia.  These “Year 2” states were selected based on their inclusion in the same MAC Jurisdiction as one or more of the Year 1 states.

The purpose of the RSNAT Model was to test whether prior authorization would be effective in reducing Medicare expenditures on RSNAT, without adversely impacting beneficiary access to medically necessary services.  CMS engaged Mathematica, a public health care research firm, to study the impact of prior authorization on ambulance utilization in the demonstration states.  Mathematica issued several reports that concluded that the Model was effective in reducing Medicare expenditures without any measurable impact on the quality of care available to Medicare beneficiaries.

On November 23, 2020, CMS published a notice in the Federal Register indicating that it intended to expand the Prior Authorization Model to all remaining states and U.S. territories.  However, citing the current Public Health Emergency, CMS elected not to set a timeline for that national expansion.

The current notice announces that timeline for national expansion

Expansion Timeline

CMS has indicated that the RSNAT Model will be expanded into new states on the following timeline:

Expansion Date Affected States
December 1, 2021 Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Not earlier than

February 1, 2022

Alabama, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada, Tennessee, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands
Not earlier than

April 1, 2022

Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Not earlier than

June 1, 2022

Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont
Not earlier than

August 1, 2022

Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming

 

An analysis of the proposed timeline suggests that CMS has elected to expand the RSNAT Model based on existing Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) Jurisdictions.  For example, each of the states slated to be included in the December 1, 2021 expansion fall within MAC Jurisdiction H.  This MAC Jurisdiction is administered by Novitas Solutions, Inc.  Novitas also administers MAC Jurisdiction L, which has been operating under the RSNAT Model since 2014.  Thus, CMS likely selected MAC Jurisdiction H for the first stage of the national expansion due to Novitas’ experience in administering the RSNAT Model.

The second stage of the national expansion will occur no earlier than February 1, 2022.  This stage will include all states and territories located in MAC Jurisdiction J and MAC Jurisdiction E.  MAC Jurisdiction J is administered by Palmetto GBA, LLC, which has been administering the RSNAT Model in MAC Jurisdiction M since 2014.  MAC Jurisdiction E is administered by Noridian Healthcare Solutions, LLC.  This will be Noridian’s first experience with the RSNAT Model.

The third stage of the national expansion will occur no earlier than April 1, 2022.  This stage will include all states and territories located in MAC Jurisdiction 5 (Wisconsin Physicians Service Government Health Administrators), MAC Jurisdiction 6 (National Government Services, Inc.), and MAC Jurisdiction N (First Coast Service Options, Inc.)

The fourth stage of the national expansion will occur no earlier than June 1, 2022.  This stage will include all states and territories located in MAC Jurisdiction 8 (Wisconsin Physicians Service Government Health Administrators) and MAC Jurisdiction K (National Government Services, Inc.).

The final stage of the will occur no earlier than August 1, 2022.  This stage will include all states and territories located in MAC Jurisdiction 15 (CGS Administrators, LLC) and MAC Jurisdiction F (Noridian Healthcare Solutions, LLC).

Outreach and Education

With the formal announcement of CMS’ timeline for the national expansion of the RSNAT Model, the American Ambulance Association will be increasing its educational efforts related to prior authorization.  This will include webinars and other educational materials on the technical elements of the prior authorization process, the importance of third-party documentation, as well as basic best practices related to the transportation of repetitive patients.  We encourage all members that may be impacted by the expansion of prior authorization to take advantage of these educational materials.

CMS Releases Medicare COVID-19 Vaccine Data Analysis and PUF

From CMS on August 25, 2021

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released two new resources with information on Medicare beneficiaries on whose behalf at least one fee-for-service (FFS) claim for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine has been submitted to the Medicare program.

First, we released a paper titled Assessing the Completeness of Medicare Claims Data for Measuring COVID-19 Vaccine Administration. This paper presents preliminary findings on the count of individuals ages 65 and older with at least one COVID-19 vaccine administration claim in the Medicare data compared to the count of people 65+ with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose in the data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Using data as of June 4th, 2021, we estimate that CMS received a claim for COVID-19 vaccine administration for roughly half of Medicare beneficiaries who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as compared to the estimated counts based on adjusted CDC figures (17.5 million out of 36.6 million). As a result, we recommend that the public apply significant caution when analyzing COVID-19 vaccine administration trends using Medicare claims data.

Second, we released the Medicare COVID-19 Vaccine Public Use File (PUF) which presents a high-level and preliminary overview of Medicare utilization and spending information from Medicare FFS claims for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. The PUF shows that between December 11, 2020 and June 30, 2021, Medicare payments for administration of the COVID-19 vaccine were over $1.1 billion.  The PUF is based on Medicare FFS claims CMS received by August 6, 2021.

[Note: The Medicare FFS program is paying for COVID-19 vaccine administration on behalf of MA beneficiaries as well as for FFS beneficiaries receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in 2020 and 2021.]

Read Now

EMS Provider Comments Needed on the “Surprise Billing” Interim Final Rule

The Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, and the U.S. Treasury Department (Departments) have issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) on “surprise billing” that will take effect September 13, 2021.  However, the Departments are taking comments on the IFR.  While the Congress expressly excluded ground ambulance organizations from the statute that the IFR seeks to implement, the Departments have included a prohibition on balance billing for nonemergency ground ambulance transports that occur after a patient has been stabilized in a facility.

The Congress established an Advisory Committee to consider the best way to address balance billing in the context of ground ambulance services, and the Departments should wait to be advised by that group before subjecting nonemergency ground ambulance transports to the broader balancing billing prohibition.

It is important that the Departments hear from as many stakeholders as possible opposing this expansion of the law.  To help you develop a comment letter, we provided the following template that we ask you to tailor to your experience and organization.  Tailored letters will be of greater value to the Department as they consider the rules.  At a minimum, please customize the templated language to insert information about who you are and where you operate.

The must be submitted by September 7, 2021.

Submit Comments Quickly and Easily

CMS Open Door Forum | Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System

August 12, 2021 Ambulance Open Door Forum

August 12, 2021 | 14:00–15:30 ET

Slide presentation on the Overview of the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System (PDF) is now available.

The next CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum scheduled for:
Date: Thursday, August 12, 2021
Start Time: 2:00pm-3:30pm PM Eastern Time (ET);
Please dial-in at least 15 minutes before call start time.
Conference Leaders: Jill Darling, Maria Durham

Agenda

**This Agenda is Subject to Change**

I. Opening Remarks
Chair- Maria Durham, Director, Division of Data Analysis and Market-based Pricing
Moderator – Jill Darling (Office of Communications)

II. Announcements & Updates

  • Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) Model Update
    • ET3 Model Website: https://innovation.cms.gov/innovation-models/et3
      • ET3Model@cms.hhs.gov for inquiries
      • ET3 Model Listserv for Model updates: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USCMS/subscriber/new?topic_id=USCMS_12521

 

Overview of the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection
System
 A copy of the presentation will be available on the
Ambulances Services Center website under
Spotlights: https://www.cms.gov/Center/ProviderType/Ambulances-Services-Center
III. Open Q&A

**DATE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE**
Next Ambulance Open Door Forum: TBA
ODF email: AMBULANCEODF@cms.hhs.gov
———————————————————————
This Open Door Forum is open to everyone, but if you are a member of the Press, you may listen in but please refrain from asking questions during the Q & A portion of the call. If you have inquiries, please contact CMS at Press@cms.hhs.gov. Thank you.

Open Door Participation Instructions

This call will be Conference Call Only.

To participate by phone:
August 12, 2021 | 14:00–15:30 ET | Dial: 1-888-455-1397 & Reference Conference Passcode: 8604468
Persons participating by phone do not need to RSVP. TTY Communications Relay
Services are available for the Hearing Impaired. For TTY services dial 7-1-1 or 1-800-855-2880. A Relay Communications Assistant will help.

Instant Replay

1-866-470-7051; Conference Passcode: No Passcode needed
Instant Replay is an audio recording of this call that can be accessed by dialing 1-
866-470-7051 and entering the Conference Passcode beginning 1 hours after the
call has ended. The recording is available until August 14, 2021, 11:59PM ET.

For ODF schedule updates and E-Mailing List registration, visit our website at
http://www.cms.gov/OpenDoorForums/.

Were you unable to attend the recent Ambulance ODF call? We encourage you to visit our CMS Podcasts and Transcript webpage where you can listen and view the most recent Ambulance ODF call. Please allow up to three weeks to get both the
audio and transcript posted to: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-andEducation/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts.html.

 

NHTSA | Office of EMS Director Jon Krohmer, MD, to Retire

NHTSA Office of EMS Director Jon Krohmer, MD, to Retire Later this Year

After 15 years of federal service, including the last five leading the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of EMS, Jon Krohmer, MD, will be retiring in November.

During his tenure as director, Dr. Krohmer and the NHTSA Office of EMS team oversaw a number of milestones for the profession, including the creation of EMS Agenda 2050; major revisions to the National EMS Scope of Practice Model and the National EMS Education Standards; and improvements in the collection and use of EMS data through the expansion of the National EMS Information System. Soon after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Krohmer was tapped to lead the prehospital/911 team as part of the Federal Healthcare Resilience Task Force.

“Dr. Krohmer’s tenure at NHTSA—especially over the last year and a half as EMS clinicians have faced one of the greatest public health challenges in generations—has been marked by real advances for the profession, thanks in no small part to his leadership,” said Nanda Srinivasan, NHTSA’s associate administrator for research and program development. “He was a true advocate at the federal level for state, tribal and local EMS systems, EMS clinicians, and patients.”

Prior to joining NHTSA, Dr. Krohmer had decades of experience as a local EMS medical director, initially in his home state of Michigan. His EMS career began as an EMT with a volunteer rescue squad. Like many EMS professionals, he was inspired by the television show Emergency! and by the emergence of the relatively new field of emergency medicine. He entered medical school at the University of Michigan knowing he wanted to make EMS his career. After becoming involved in EMS at the state and national level, he also served as president of the National Association of EMS Physicians from 1998 to 2000. In 2006, he came to Washington to serve as the first deputy chief medical officer for the Department of Homeland Security Office of Health Affairs and served in several other DHS roles before joining NHTSA in 2016.

“Working alongside EMS clinicians and the people who support them at local, state and national levels has been a privilege and a heck of a lot of fun,” said Dr. Krohmer. “The decision to leave NHTSA was difficult, but it’s made easier knowing that the team in the Office of EMS, our colleagues throughout the federal government, and leaders of EMS at state and local levels are committed to improving the lives of people in their communities and will continue to advance EMS systems everywhere.”

NHTSA will launch a national search for a new director for the Office of EMS.

“The example set by Dr. Krohmer will serve as a great model for the next director,” said Associate Administrator Srinivasan, “and the team of dedicated public servants at the Office of EMS has the experience and expertise to ensure a smooth transition.”

EMS.gov | New Resources Help EMS Clinicians and Agencies Navigate HIPAA

Nationwide, EMS agencies regularly report that hospitals and other healthcare workers refuse to share patient information with them, citing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) concerns. Misconceptions about HIPAA can create artificial barriers to the legitimate, approved exchange of data between EMS and other providers, resulting in missed opportunities to improve patient outcomes and advance evidence-based practices in prehospital care.

To address this issue, the NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center collaborated with the law firm Page, Wolfberg & Wirth to provide helpful resources explaining the sharing of patient information between EMS and other healthcare professionals:

While obstacles may remain for the appropriate sharing of patient information, HIPAA is not one of them. Sharing patient information benefits EMS agencies and improves prehospital patient care by revealing evidence-based practices that make a difference for patients in the field.

EMS Balance Billing Quick Take—July 7, 2021

Webinar July 7, 2021 | 13:00–13:30 ET | Free to AAA Members
Speakers: Kathy Lester, Esq. & Asbel Montes

On July 1, CMS issued a proposed rule on Surprise Billing which applies to those providers and physicians identified in the No Surprises Act. This statute subjected ground ambulance suppliers to an HHS Advisory Committee process prior to any rulemaking addressing these services.

The consultants and staff of the American Ambulance Association are doing a deep dive into the 400+ page rule and evaluating its nuances. We continue to understand from our conversations that ground ambulances are not included and instead are subjected to the Advisory Committee.

The American Ambulance Association will soon provide a summary to members, and will address any confusion with the Administration. Join AAA for a quick take live webinar on July 7 at 13:00 ET to learn more!

Register Now

 

CMS | New Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Snapshot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2021

Contact: CMS Media Relations
CMS Media Inquiries

New Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Snapshot Shows Almost 10 million Americans Enrolled in Coverage During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Report Shows Record Medicaid Enrollment and Highlights the Program’s Importance in Preserving Coverage for Millions of Children and Adults Throughout the United States

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new Enrollment Trends Snapshot report today showing a record high, over 80 million individuals have health coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Nearly 9.9 million individuals, a 13.9% increase, enrolled in coverage between February 2020, the month before the public health emergency (PHE) was declared, and January 2021.

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, a total of 80,543,351 people were enrolled and receiving full benefits from the Medicaid and CHIP programs by the end of January 2021. In the 50 states that reported total Medicaid child and CHIP enrollment data for January 2021, over 38.3 million children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP combined, approximately 50% of the total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment. These numbers highlight the essential role the Medicaid and CHIP programs play in providing quality and needed coverage for millions of vulnerable children and adults. In fact, both programs serve as the largest single source of health coverage in the country.

“The Biden-Harris administration is using every lever to ensure any American needing access to quality health coverage receives it. Now more than ever, people need the peace of mind of knowing that they have health coverage,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This report reminds us what a critical program and rock Medicaid continues to be in giving tens of millions of children and adults access to care. This pandemic taught us that now more than ever, we must work to strengthen Medicaid and make it available whenever and wherever it’s needed using the unprecedented investments Congress provided.”

The increase in total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is largely attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 PHE, in particular, enactment of section 6008 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). FFCRA provides states with a temporary 6.2% payment increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding.  States qualify for this enhanced funding by adhering to the Maintenance of Effort requirement, which ensures eligible people enrolled in Medicaid stay enrolled and covered during the PHE.

“Medicaid and CHIP serve as a much-needed lifeline for millions of people throughout this country. The increase we are seeing is exactly how Medicaid works: the program steps in to support people and their families when times are tough,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “For the parents that may have lost a job or had another life change during the pandemic, having access to coverage for themselves and their kids is life-changing. CMS is committed to ensuring our nation’s marginalized communities and low-income families have the coverage they need.”

To assist states and territories in their response to the COVID-19 PHE, CMS developed numerous strategies to support Medicaid and CHIP programs in times of crisis, including granting states more flexibility in their Medicaid and CHIP operations. Today’s data release also reflects a range of indicators related to key application, eligibility, and enrollment processes from within state Medicaid and CHIP agencies.

The Snapshot is a product of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid CHIP Services (CMCS) Medicaid and CHIP Coverage Learning Collaborative (MACLC), which monitors Medicaid and CHIP enrollment trends, primarily using the CMS Performance Indicator (PI) data reported to CMS by state Medicaid and CHIP agencies. PI data reflects key Medicaid and CHIP business processes- including applications, renewals, eligibility determinations, and enrollment.

The Enrollment Trends Snapshot, which is released monthly, is available here:  https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/program-information/medicaid-chip-enrollment-data/medicaid-and-chip-enrollment-trend-snapshot/index.html

The complete dataset, including data from January 2021, is available on data.Medicaid.gov.

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.