CMS Posts 2023 Public Use File

On November 23, 2022, CMS posted the 2023 Ambulance Fee Schedule Public Use Files. These files contain the amounts that will be allowed by Medicare in the calendar year 2023 for the various levels of ambulance service and mileage. These allowable reflect an 8.7% inflation adjustment over the calendar 2022 rates. The 2023 Ambulance Fee Schedule Public Use File can be downloaded from the CMS website by clicking here.

Please note that these files reflect the Medicare allowable based on current federal law.  Accordingly, the 2023 Public Use Files do not include the current add-ons (i.e., 2% for urban, 3% for rural, and the super-rural bonus), as these add-ons are currently scheduled to expire on December 31, 2022.

The AAA is actively working with congressional offices to not only extend but hopefully increase, the Medicare ambulance add-ons by the end of the year. If you have not already written to your members of Congress about extending the add-ons at increased levels, please do so today by using the AAA online advocacy tool by clicking here.

Unfortunately, in recent years, CMS has elected to release its Public Use Files without state and payment locality headings. As a result, in order to look up the rates in your service area, you would need to know the CMS contract number assigned to your state. This is not something the typical ambulance service would necessarily have on hand. For this reason, the AAA will be publishing a reformatted version of the CMS Medicare Ambulance Fee Schedule that includes the state and payment locality headings. The reformatted fee schedule will be available on the AAA website in the coming days.

The AAA will also be publishing an updated version of its Medicare Rate Calculator, which we expect to have available on our website once we have a better sense of the timing of the extension of the add-ons.

CMS Update-CY 2023 Final Ambulance Fee Schedule

Member Advisory:  CMS Issues CY 2023 Final Ambulance Fee Schedule Rule Updated Data Ground Ambulance Data Collection System

by Kathy Lester, JD, MPH

CMS has released the “CY 2023 Payment Policies under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Changes to Part B Payment Policies; Medicare Shared Savings Program Requirements; Medicare and Medicaid Provider Enrollment Policies, Including for Skilled Nursing Facilities; Conditions of Payment for Suppliers of Durable Medicaid Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS); and Implementing Requirements for Manufacturers of Certain Single-dose Container or Single-use Package Drugs to Provide Refunds with Respect to Discarded Amounts” (Final Rule).  The Final Rule includes proposals affecting ground ambulance services in terms of medical necessity requirements and documentation requirements, as well as to the ground ambulance cost collecting tool.

I.           Medical Necessity and Documentation Requirements for Nonemergency, Scheduled, Repetitive Ambulance Services

              CMS finalizes the modifications to the documentation requirements codified in regulation pertaining to the medical necessity and documentation requirements for nonemergency, scheduled, repetitive ambulance services, such as those to/from dialysis facilities.  The Final Rule clarifies that the Physician Certification Statement (PCS), and additional documentation from the beneficiary’s medical record, may be used to support a claim that transportation by ground ambulance is medically necessary.  It also notes that the PCS and additional documentation must provide detailed explanations that: (1) are consistent with the beneficiary’s current medical condition; and (2) explain the beneficiary’s need for transport by an ambulance.  Coverage includes observation or other services rendered by qualified ambulance personnel.  It maintains the following requirements:

  • In all cases, the provider or supplier must keep appropriate documentation on file and, upon request, present it to CMS;
  • The ambulance service must meet all program coverage criteria including vehicle and staffing requirements; and
  • A signed PCS does not alone demonstrate that transportation by ground ambulance was medically necessary.

             CMS declines to “confine this regulatory clarification to the RSNAT prior authorization program, as there may be non-emergent, scheduled, repetitive ambulance transport services outside of that program that would be affected.” (Display Copy 1756)  CMS also does not provide further clarification about what it means by the term “additional documentation” because it believes that “the data elements needed will vary depending upon the beneficiary’s specific conditions and needs.” (Id.)  CMS also states that “[t]his proposal does not establish new obligations for documentation; rather, it merely clarifies existing requirements.” (Id. at 1757).  In response to a comment, CMS also writes, “In addition, our pre-proposal language and proposed regulatory language both reflect that the presence of a PCS alone is not sufficient to demonstrate medical necessity, and, therefore, must be supported by medical documentation.” (Id.)  CMS also declined to extend authorization to nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants, stating that to do so would be outside of the scope of the rule.

II.         Ground Ambulance Data Collection Instrument

            CMS finalizes the proposed changes to the ground ambulance data collection instrument and instructions with a few additional modifications in response to comments.  They fall within four areas:  (1) editorial changes for clarity and consistency; (2) updates to reflect the web-based system; (3)  clarifications responding to feedback from questions from interested parties and testing; and (4) typos and technical corrections.  The updated instrument that includes all of the CY 2023 proposed changes to review and provide comments on is posted on the CMS website at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/AmbulanceFeeSchedule/Downloads/Medicare-Ground-Ambulance-Data-Collection-System-Instrument.pdf.

            One of these modification is to Section 5, Question 3c, which now reads: Does your organization respond to calls with another non- transporting agency such as a local fire department that is not part of your organization? After the question, the following instructions will be provided: This includes joint responses with other ground ambulance organizations as well as cases where a fire, police, or other public safety department responses to calls for service with your organization. Only consider cases where your ground ambulance does or would have transported the patient, if necessary.

            The Final Rule notes that the system already includes an “autosave” feature that saves responses as they are entered. The system also allows the same user to enter information at different times, and/or multiple users to enter information at different times. The system also already includes many validation and error checking steps that are automatically applied as respondents enter information. CMS also noted that it has no plans to adopt additional import functionality prior to the launch of the system, but that it will continue to explore the option of an API.  CMS also indicates that the final written tool and web-based platform will align before the system goes live.  A print function will also be available for the online submissions.

            CMS indicates that the data from the collection system will be made available to the public through posting on the CMS website at least every 2 years.  Summary results will be posted by the last quarter.  The data collected under the ground ambulance data collection system will be publicly available beginning in 2024.

            CMS also indicates that it will not require a ground ambulance organization to fill the data entry submitter and data certifier roles with different individuals.

            CMS has also provided additional guidance, including FAQs available at:  https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service- Payment/AmbulanceFeeSchedule/Downloads/Medicare-Ground-Ambulance-FAQs.pdf.

            CMS also finalizes its proposal for an automated process for submitting a hardship exemption request and informal review request.

III.        Origin and Destination Requirements Under the Ambulance Fee Schedule

            In the Final Rule, CMS also responds to comments it received on the Interim Final Rule that expanded the origin and destination requirements.  It finalizes the interim final policy that the expanded list of covered destinations for ground ambulance transports including, but are not limited to, any location that is an alternative site determined to be part of a hospital, CAH or SNF, community mental health centers, FQHCs, RHCs, physician offices, urgent care facilities, ASCs, any location furnishing dialysis services outside of an ESRD facility when an ESRD facility is not available, and the beneficiary’s home.  The policy will be In effect for the duration of the PHE for the COVID-19 only.

CMS Announces Providers Selected for Year 3 & 4 Cost Data Collection

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Announces Year 3 and Year 4 Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System Selected Providers and Suppliers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the ground ambulance suppliers and providers selected for Years 3 and 4 of the Medicare ground ambulance data collection system.  The list of the selected providers and suppliers is available on the CMS website.  These providers and suppliers will be asked to collect data during their budget year starting in 2023 and to report the data within five months of the close of that year.

Providers and suppliers who are selected should respond to the notification letter sent by Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC).  Organizations may select a calendar year or fiscal year start date for the data collection period.  Data will be submitted for a continuous 12-month period using the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection Instrument: English (PDF).

The AAA continues to provide educational support for ground ambulance services to help them collect and report these data.  In addition to in-person sessions, the AAA offers webinars on demand.

It is important that all ground ambulance providers and suppliers collect and report data through this program.  The Congress intends to use the information to help reform Medicare ambulance fee schedule.

CMS Announces 2023 Ambulance Inflation Factor

On October 14, 2022, CMS issued Transmittal 11642 (Change Request 12948), which announced the Medicare Ambulance Inflation Factor (AIF) for the calendar year 2023.

The AIF is calculated by measuring the increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) for the 12-month period ending with June of the previous year.  Starting in the calendar year 2011, the change in the CPI-U is now reduced by a so-called “productivity adjustment”, which is equal to the 10-year moving average of changes in the economy-wide private nonfarm business multi-factor productivity index (MFP).  The MFP reduction may result in a negative AIF for any calendar year.  The resulting AIF is then added to the conversion factor used to calculate Medicare payments under the Ambulance Fee Schedule.

For the 12-month period ending in June 2022, the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has calculated that the CPI-U increased by 9.1%.  CMS further indicated that the CY 2023 MFP would be 0.4%.  Accordingly, CMS indicated that the Ambulance Inflation Factor for the calendar year 2023 will be 8.7%. 

This is the largest inflation update since the implementation of the current Medicare Ambulance Fee Schedule in April 2002.  The increase from last year’s 5.1% increase is also the single largest year-over-year increase on record.

Administration Includes Ambulance Add-Ons Extension on CR List

The Biden Administration has issued a list of expiring programs and items that they would like to see or have no objection to being, extended as part of the FY2023 Continuing Resolution.  The list includes “Medicare add-on payments for ground ambulance services”. The list also includes a “Suspension of Medicare Sequestration” on which the AAA has been advocating. Congress will need to pass a CR by September 30 to avoid a partial government shutdown.

No determination has been made by congressional decision-makers as to when Congress will address Medicare extenders that expire at the end of the year but most key congressional staff believe extenders will be addressed after the election. Even if extenders are not included in the CR, the list demonstrates the overall support and/or recognition of the Administration for the listed programs and items including the Medicare ambulance add-on payments and suspension of sequestration.

Authorization Issues

Note: The following list is provided for your information. In the event that authorizing
legislation is not enacted in a timely manner, these items will allow either for the
continuation of programs that will be funded in the continuing resolution (CR) or for other
legislative fixes.

Agriculture/Rural Development:

Necessary For Extension or Inclusion in the CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
Agriculture, Livestock Mandatory Reporting

No Objection to Inclusion in a CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
HHS, FDA User Fees
HHS, Exclusivity of Certain Drugs Containing Single Enantiomers
HHS, Medical device programs expiration: 1) Authority to accredit 3rd parties to review certain medical device applications; 2) Conformity Assessment Pilot Program for Devices; 3) Device Postmarket Pilot Projects; 4) Inspections by Accredited Persons; 5) Modification to Humanitarian Device Exemption

Commerce/Justice/Science:

Necessary For Extension or Inclusion in the CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
Justice, Additional Special Assessment (Expires 9/11/22)
Justice, U.S. Parole Commission (NOTE: Extension for two years is recommended)
Justice, Protection of certain facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft (Also DHS)
Justice, Extending Temporary Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act (Expires 12/31/22)

Defense:

Necessary For Extension or Inclusion in the CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
Defense, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Security Investment Program (NSIP)
Defense, Authority to Provide Temporary Adjust in Rates of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) if the Actual Costs of Adequate Housing for Civilians in That Military Housing Area or Portion Thereof Differs from the Current BAH Rates by More than 20 Percent
Defense, Authority for reimbursement of certain coalition nations for support provided to United States military operations (Expires 12/31/22)
Defense, Authority to provide assistance to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Expires 12/31/22)
Defense, Authority to provide assistance to the vetted Syrian groups and individuals. (Expires 12/31/22)
Defense, Authority to provide temporary increase in rates of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) under certain circumstances (Expires 12/31/22)
Defense, Authority to Support Operations and Activities of the Office of Security Cooperation In Iraq (Expires 12/31/22)
Defense, Authority to waive annual limitation on premium pay and aggregate limitation on pay for Federal civilian employees working overseas (Expires 12/31/22)
Defense, Extension of Certain Expiring Bonus and Special Pay Authorities (Expires 12/31/22)
Defense, Income Replacement Payments for Reserve Component Members Experiencing Extended and Frequent Mobilization for Active Duty Service (Expires 12/31/22)

No Objection to Inclusion in a CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
Defense, Information Operations, and Engagement Technology Demonstrations
Defense, One-time Uniform Allowance for Officers Who Transfer to the Space Force
Defense, Increased Percentage of Sustainment Funds Authorized for Realignment to Restoration and Modernization at Each Installation
Defense, Pilot Program for the Temporary Exchange of Cyber and Information Technology Personnel
Defense, Reauthorization of Authority to Order Retired Members to Active Duty in Highdemand, Low-density Assignments

Financial Services/General Government:

Necessary For Extension or Inclusion in the CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
FCC, FCC General, and Incentive Auction Authority Continuation (NOTE: Extension of auction authority through 9/30/2024 is recommended)
GSA, Pilot Programs for Authority to Acquire Innovative Commercial Items Using General Solicitation Competitive Procedure (NOTE: also covered by DHS)
SBA, Assistance for Administration, Oversight, and Contract Processing Costs
SBA, Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program for Civilian Agencies
SBA, Phase 0 Proof of Concept Partnership Pilot Program
SBA, Pilot Program to Accelerate DOD Awards
SBA, SBIR Commercialization Assistance Pilot Programs
SBA, SBIR Phase Flexibility
SBA, Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR)
SBA, Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)

Homeland Security:

Necessary For Extension or Inclusion in the CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
Homeland Security, DHS Joint Task Forces
Homeland Security, E-Verify Program
Homeland Security, National Computer Forensics Institute
Homeland Security, National Flood Insurance Program
Homeland Security, Raising the H-2B Cap
Homeland Security, National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS) Authorization, including EINSTEIN
Homeland Security, Counter Threats Advisory Board
Homeland Security, Pilot Programs for Authority to Acquire Innovative Commercial Items Using General Solicitation Competitive Procedure (NOTE: also covered by GSA)
Homeland Security, Protection of certain facilities and assets from unmanned aircraft (Also DOJ)

No Objection to Inclusion in a CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
Homeland Security, Authority to grant special immigrant status to religious workers other than ministers
Homeland Security, Waiver of Foreign Residence Requirements for Physicians Working in Underserved Areas (“Conrad State 30” Program)

Interior/Environment:

Necessary For Extension or Inclusion in the CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
Interior, Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009

Labor/HHS/Education:

Necessary For Extension or Inclusion in the CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
Labor, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Workers Program (Expired 7/1/22)
HHS, TANF
HHS, Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program
HHS, Liability protections for health professional volunteers at community health centers (HRSA)
HHS, Medical Countermeasures Innovations Partner
HHS, Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program
HHS, Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee
HHS, Increase in Medicaid FMAP for territories
SSA, Demonstration Project Authority (Expires 12/31/22)

No Objection to Inclusion in a CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
HHS, Additional support for Medicaid home and community-based services during the COVID-19 emergency (Expired 3/31/22)
HHS, Suspension of Medicare Sequestration (Expired 3/31/22)
HHS, Medicare IPPS adjustment for low-volume hospitals
HHS, Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) program
HHS, Puerto Rico Medicaid Payment
HHS, Restriction on Alaska Native Regional Health Entities
HHS, Tick-Borne Diseases Working Group
HHS, Exception for eligible professionals based in ambulatory surgical centers with respect to incentives for meaningful use of certified EHR technology (Expires 12/31/22)
HHS, Incentives for Qualifying Alternative Payment Model Participants (Expires 12/31/22)
HHS, Medicare add-on payments for ground ambulance services (Expires 12/31/22)
HHS, Medicare add-on payments for rural home health services (Expires 12/31/22)
HHS, Temporary Increase in Medicare Physician and Non-physician Practitioners Payments (Expires 12/31/22)

Military Construction/VA:

Necessary For Extension or Inclusion in the CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
VA, Adaptive Sports Assistance Program (formerly limited to Paralympics)
VA, Co-Pays for Hospital and Nursing Home Care
VA, Homeless and Seriously Mentally Ill Veterans- Additional Services at Certain Locations
VA, Homeless and Seriously Mentally Ill Veterans- Treatment/ Rehab
VA, Manila, Philippines Regional Office
VA, SAH – Assistive Technology Grants
VA, Transportation of Beneficiaries
VA, Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans
VA, Advisory Committee on Education (Expires 12/31/22)
VA, Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans (Expires 12/31/22)
VA, SAH for Veterans Temporarily Residing with Family (Expires 12/31/22)

Transportation/HUD:

Necessary For Extension or Inclusion in the CR if Not Enacted First in Other Legislation
Transportation, Next Generation 9-1-1

CMS End of PHE Roadmap

CMS Prepares Providers and Suppliers for the End of the Public Health Emergency:

CMS Issues Updates on the End of Emergency Waivers and Flexibilities Issued during the PHE

By Kathy Lester, J.D., M.P.H.

 

Even though it appears that the Biden-Harris Administration will extend the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) for at least another 90 days, CMS has begun the process of preparing for the termination of waivers and flexibilities that have been in effect during the pandemic.  During the PHE, the American Ambulance Association has worked closely with CMS and Congress to make sure that ground ambulance services were prioritized and provided with waivers and flexibilities to support their integral role as a front-line medical response during the pandemic.

 

CMS announced its roadmap for the end of the PHE on August 18.  The roadmap includes a summary of the policies that will terminate at the end of the PHE, but also notes that CMS intends to keep some policies in place even after the PHE ends. Examples of policies that will continue after the PHE is allowed to expire include certain morbidity and mortality reporting requirements on long-term care facilities and certain telehealth services expanded by Congress.

 

In its announcement, CMS indicated particular concern about patient safety.  “As mentioned by Lee A. Fleisher, M.D.; Michelle Schreiber, M.D.; Denise Cardo, M.D.; and Arjun Srinivasan, M.D., in February 17, 2022, New England Journal of Medicine Perspective, ‘Safety has also worsened for patients receiving post-acute care, according to data submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Reporting Programs…’”

 

As part of this announcement, CMS released a fact sheet detailing the current status of the Medicare waivers and flexibilities for ambulance providers and suppliers.  Some of the policies highlighted in this fact sheet include:

 

  • Vaccine Reimbursement Rates: CMS will continue to pay approximately $40 per dose for administering COVID-19 vaccines in outpatient settings for Medicare beneficiaries through the end of the calendar year that the COVID-19 PHE ends.  Effective January 1 of the year following the year that the COVID-19 PHE ends, CMS will set the payment rate for administering COVID-19 vaccines to align with the payment rate for administering other Part B preventive vaccines.  CMS plans to continue to pay a total payment of approximately $75 per dose to administer COVID-19 vaccines in the home for certain Medicare patients through the end of the calendar year that the COVID-19 PHE ends.

 

  • Alternative Destination: CMS indicates that it will include this issue in future rulemaking.

 

  • Treat in Place: CMS indicates that the waiver will end with the end of the PHE.

 

  • Repetitive, Scheduled Non-Emergent Ambulance Transport (RSNAT) Prior Authorization: CMS notes that it has already returned to the full model operations including post-payment reviews of claims submitted during the PHE.

 

  • Signature Requirements: Absent indications of potential fraud and abuse, CMS will not review claims for dates of service during the COVID-19 PHE for compliance with the signature requirements.

 

  • Appeal Flexibilities: CMS will allow some of the flexibilities related to the timing of appears to continue consistent with existing authority for appeals once the PHE ends.

 

The AAA will continue to monitor the PHE and any changes in the waivers and flexibilities specific to ground ambulance services.  We encourage members to reach out to our team if concerns or questions arise as CMS winds down the PHE.

CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum Summary

On August 18, 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) held its most recent Ambulance Open Door Forum (ODF). As is typically the case, CMS started the ODF with a series of announcements, before opening the call to questions from the ambulance industry.

 

The first announcement related to proposed changes to the regulations governing the medical necessity requirements for non-emergency, scheduled, repetitive ground ambulance services. Specifically, CMS is proposing to modify the so-called “special rule” for repetitive, scheduled non-emergency services (set forth in the regulations at 42 C.F.R. §410.40(e)(2)(ii)). CMS indicated that these proposed changes would provide necessary and ensure the consistent application of the documentation requirements by its contractors. The proposed change would add language indicating that both the Physician Certification Statement and “additional documentation from the beneficiary’s medical record” could be used to support medical necessity for the ambulance transport. The new language would further indicate that these documents must provide detailed explanations that are consistent with the beneficiary’s current medical condition. On the ODF, CMS encouraged the industry to submit comments on these proposed changes. However, CMS indicated that, because these changes were the subject of ongoing rulemaking, it would not be able to answer any questions on the ODF.

 

The second announcement related to the proposed changes to the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System (GADCS) included in the July 2022 Proposed Rule. CMS and its contractor, the Rand Corporation, went through a detailed PowerPoint presentation that summarized these proposed changes. That PowerPoint presentation can be accessed by clicking here.

 

As part of its discussion of the GADCS, CMS also announced the implementation of an automated process for requesting hardship exemptions and informal review of determinations that an ambulance provider is subject to a financial penalty for failing to properly submit its cost data.

 

The final announcement related to ambulance services furnished by Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHS). In the FY 2023 Outpatient Hospital Proposed Rule, CMS is proposing to codify in its regulations the statutory requirement that ambulance services furnished by entities that are owned and operated by REHS will be paid under the Medicare Ambulance Fee Schedule. CMS is also proposing to revise the origin and destination requirements to include REHS as both a covered origin and covered destination for ambulance services.

 

The ODF concluded with a brief Q&A period. All of the questions posed to CMS related to the GADCS.  One of the questions placed to CMS was whether it would permit ambulance suppliers to prospectively seek a hardship exemption, i.e., to permit an ambulance supplier to ask now that it be relieved of the financial penalties for failing to report its cost data. The person posing the question specifically referenced ambulance suppliers impacted by the severe flooding in the State of Kentucky. CMS confirmed that an ambulance supplier had to be notified that it was subject to a financial penalty before it was eligible to seek a hardship exemption.

CMS | Ambulance Ground Transport: Comparative Billing Report in April

From CMS on April 21, 2022

In late April, CMS will issue a Comparative Billing Report (CBR) on Medicare Part B claims for ambulance ground transport. Use the data-driven report to compare your billing practices with those of peers in your state and across the nation.

CBRs aren’t publicly available. Look for an email from cbrpepper.noreply@religroupinc.com to access your report. Update your email address in the Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System to ensure delivery.

For More Information:

FAIR Health | Ground Ambulance Services in the United States

From FAIR Health in February 2022

“Currently, no federal law protects consumers against “surprise” bills from out-of-network ground ambulance providers. Some state and local governments regulate ground ambulance surprise billing practices; however, such laws may not apply to all health plans or ambulance providers in an area. Because of the substantial policy interest in ground ambulance services, FAIR Health drew on its vast database of private healthcare claims to illuminate multiple aspects of such services across the nation, including utilization, costs, age, gender, diagnoses and differences across states.”

Download PDF Report

AAA 2022 Legislative Priorities

Yesterday, the American Ambulance Association Board of Directors approved the Association’s advocacy priorities for 2022. Our key initiatives reflect the challenges we face this year, including short-sighted threats to EMS balance billing, a worsening workforce shortage, the expiration of the temporary Medicare increases, and potential sequestration cuts.

We also continue to fight for you as you care for people first on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will sustain our efforts at securing additional funding for ground ambulance services to help address the increased costs of providing medical care and transport during the Public Health Emergency.

To achieve our collective goals, the AAA Board will need to mobilize the full voice of influence of the EMS community this year. If you have not already sent an email using the AAA advocacy system to your members of Congress, please do so today!

Staff will be reaching out to you at key points later in the year about letter writing for specific individual policy requests. But it is important that they hear from you now on all the top issues for ground ambulance services.  They are:

Top AAA Advocacy Priorities for 2022

EMS Workforce Shortage

With the persistent shortage of ground ambulance service field personnel raising to a crisis level with the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAA moved the issue to a top policy priority. The AAA is currently working with key Congressional Committees of jurisdiction to hold hearings on the EMS workforce shortage. We are also developing legislation to specifically target increasing access for ground ambulance service organizations to federal programs and funding for the retention and training of health care personnel.

Balance Billing

The AAA successfully educated the Congress on the role of local government oversight and other unique characteristics of providing ground ambulance service organizations. As a result, the Congress directed the establishment of a Ground Ambulance and Balance Billing Advisory Committee to address the issue. The Committee is in the process of being formed and then has 180 days in which to make recommendations to the Congress. The AAA will be involved with the Committee and advocating that the Congress implement policies that meet the needs of our members.

Additional COVID-19 Financial Assistance

The AAA is advocating for additional financial assistance for ground ambulance service organizations to help address the increased costs of labor and other higher costs associated with providing health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medicare Ambulance Relief

The temporary Medicare ambulance increases of 2% urban, 3% rural and the super rural bonus payment expire at the end of the year. The AAA will continue to push for passage of the provisions of the Preserving Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act (S. 2037, H.R. 2454) before the provisions expire as well as for the adoption of language to ensure truly rural areas remain rural following changes to geographical designations based on the 2020 census.

Sequestration Cuts

The Congress delayed the additional 4% sequestration cut for only one yea. The AAA is working with other EMS and health care provider and supplier groups to permanently prevent the cut from going into effect as well as further extending the moratorium on the long-standing 2% cut.

Ambulance Cost Data Collection

With the 2-year delay of ambulance data collection due to the pandemic, the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC) will have little to no data to analyze in March 2023 in which to make recommendations to the Congress on Medicare ambulance payment policy and rates. The AAA is asking the Congress to push back the date of the MedPAC report and also expand the modified data collection timeline of two years to the intended four years.

On behalf of my fellow board members, I again thank you for your continued membership and participation. We look forward to serving you for many years to come.

We also encourage all of our AAA members to contact their members of Congress through our online advocacy tool. 

Should you have any questions regarding our advocacy priorities, please contact AAA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tristan North at tnorth@ambulance.org.

CMS | Ambulance Open Door Forum Dec 9

The next CMS Ambulance Open Door Forum scheduled for:

Date:  Thursday, December 9, 2021

Start Time:  2:00pm-3:00pm PM Eastern Time (ET);

Please dial-in at least 15 minutes before call start time.

To participate by phone:

Dial: 1-888-455-1397 & Reference Conference Passcode: 8604468

Conference Leaders: Jill Darling, Maria Durham

**This Agenda is Subject to Change**

  1. Opening Remarks

Chair- Maria Durham, Director, Division of Data Analysis and Market Based Pricing

Moderator – Jill Darling (Office of Communications)

Announcements & Updates

  1. Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) Model Update
  2. Upcoming Implementation Dates of the Repetitive, Scheduled Non-Emergent Ambulance Transport Prior Authorization Model
  3. Ground Ambulance & Patient Billing Advisory Committee Member Nomination Period
  1. CY 2022 Ambulance Inflation Factor (AIF) Change Request 12488, Transmittal 11044
  2. Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection System CY 2022 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule

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:

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: 1-800-856-2271; Conference Passcode: No Passcode needed

Instant Replay is an audio recording of this call that can be accessed by dialing 1-800-856-2271 and entering the Conference Passcode beginning 1 hours after the call has ended. The recording is available until December 11, 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-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts.html.

CMS provides free auxiliary aids and services including information in accessible formats. Click here for more information. This will point partners to our CMS.gov version of the “Accessibility & Nondiscrimination notice” page. Thank you.