Message from AAA President Shawn Baird
The paramedic and EMT shortage has become a top policy priority of the AAA as we pursue several short and long-term initiatives to address this unprecedented crisis. Over the last several months, the AAA has been working closely with Members of the Senate Appropriations Problem Committee and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to secure a grant program that would assist ground ambulance service organizations in hiring and retaining paramedics and EMTs. I am extremely pleased to report that the Fiscal Year 2023 Senate HHS appropriations package includes the program language for which the AAA has been advocating.
The language in the Senate Report reads:
EMS Preparedness and Response Workforce Shortage Program.— The Committee recognizes that our Nation is facing a crippling EMS workforce shortage which threatens public health and jeopardizes our ability to respond to healthcare emergencies on a timely basis. ASPR should prioritize ensuring a well-trained and adequate ground ambulance services workforce in underserved, rural, and Tribal areas and/or addressing health disparities related to accessing prehospital ground ambulance healthcare services, including critical care transport.
In the House, the AAA’s efforts contributed to House appropriators increasing the ASPR account funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) (more than $30 million). We anticipate that ASPR would focus its efforts to address the ground ambulance workforce shortage through the HPP, so this increase in funding is also a critical component of the AAA’s efforts.
Although the appropriations process has many more steps to go through before final passage, having the EMS workforce shortage highlighted in the Senate report is a critical step toward achieving our goal to provide ground ambulance services across the country with the help they need during this unprecedent time.
The AAA will continue to work closely with Congressional champions and the ASPR team as they shepherd this language through the next steps in the process. I would like to thank Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ranking Members Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) for championing and supporting the effort.