Tag: COVID-19

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

CMS COVID-19 Snapshot March 24

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 2.7 million COVID-19 cases among the Medicare population and nearly 700,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.  This update includes new data on COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates by race/ethnicity.

The updated snapshot covers the period from January 1 to December 26, 2020. It is based on Medicare Fee-for-Service claims and Medicare Advantage encounter data CMS received by January 22, 2021.

View the Updated Snapshot

NBC | Covid package, federal program offer lifeline and herald change for ambulances services

March 18, 2021, 3:54 PM EDT

Features Empress EMS and REMSA!

By Phil McCausland
During the height of the pandemic, a quiet financial crisis was brewing for ambulance companies.

As hospitals became overwhelmed and patients begged not to be taken to crowded emergency rooms for fear of potential infection, paramedics and emergency medical technicians began treating patients where they met them — outside homes, alongside roadways, in parking lots.

The trouble is that ambulance companies are only paid to transport people, not for treating them.

Now, an aid package in the American Rescue Plan and a new federal health care program could provide a financial lifeline for ambulance companies and herald a permanent shift in emergency medicine as a whole.

The attempt to reimburse ambulance companies began with a bill introduced by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., but the legislation was ultimately rolled into the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill. Cortez Masto voted for the plan, and Cassidy did not.

“Our first responders have gone above and beyond in caring for patients during the pandemic, and it’s just wrong that ambulance companies weren’t getting paid unless they took patients to the hospital,” Cortez Masto said.

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Joint Letter on Sequestration Delay

On March 15, the AAA, IAFC, IAFF, NFVC, NAEMT, and the Congressional Fire Services Institute sent a letter to congressional leaders in support of legislation (H.R. 1868) to extend the current moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequestration cut. The moratorium is currently scheduled to expire on March 31 and H.R. 1868 would extend the moratorium until December 31. Below is a copy of the letter.

This week, the House passed House Resolution 233 with the rules for debate and consideration of H.R. 1868. Congressmen Schneider (D-IL) and McKinley (R-WV) introduced H.R. 315 and Senators Sheehan (D-NH) and Collins (R-ME) introduced S. 748 which would extend the moratorium through the end of the public health emergency.

March 16, 2021

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Charles Schumer Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader McCarthy:

Thank you for your continued support of front-line medical workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and firefighters, as well as the organizations that they serve, take on substantial risk every day to treat, transport and test potential COVID-19 patients. We write today to express our deep concern with the impending 2% Medicare sequestration cut scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2021.

The 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) along with the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) represent the providers of vital emergency and non-emergency ground ambulance services and the paramedics, EMTs and firefighters who deliver the direct medical care and transport for every community across the United States. We have all experienced the strain on our services, and need financial assistance and support as we remain the frontline responders to our nation’s coronavirus patients. The sequestered cuts, if implemented, would further strain the provision of these critical services.

Our costs of operating have increased exponentially in response to COVID-19, as we maintain full readiness to combat the pandemic and continue to provide 24-hour vital non-COVID-19- related services. Our costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), overtime pay, and other expenses directly related to COVID-19 remain high. At a time when we are facing considerable economic strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we respectfully urge Congress take action before April 1, 2021 to extend the 2% Medicare sequestration moratorium. We would like to voice our strong support for bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1868, to prevent the 2% sequester cut.

Our organizations greatly appreciate both the financial support provided through congressionally enacted COVID-19 relief legislation, as well as the recognition of the dangers of providing these critical services on a daily basis. However, the impact of the pandemic on our resources and services remains and the implementation of additional Medicare cuts at this time would be harmful to our members.

We thank you in advance for your consideration and helping ensure that EMS agencies and personnel have the resources they need to continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the funding to maintain the short and long-term viability of our operations.

Sincerely,

American Ambulance Association

Congressional Fire Services Institute

International Association of Fire Chiefs

International Association of Fire Fighters

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians

National Volunteer Fire Council

EMS Industry Targeted in Program Implemented by OSHA to Protect Employees from COVID

One of the first actions taken by the Biden Administration the day after the Inauguration was to issue an Executive Order directing OSHA to focus their efforts on protecting the American workforce. Following that Executive Order, OSHA has implemented a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to ensure that employees in high-hazard industries, including EMS providers, are protected from contracting COVID-19. The NEP is intended to augment OSHA’s educational and enforcement efforts with unprogrammed, COVID-19 related activities, including complaints, referrals, and severe incident reports. The March 12, 2021 announcement also states that it is updating the Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize on-site workplace inspections. The NEP also includes plans to ensure that workers are protected from retaliation. Lastly, states that have an OSHA-approved state-level plan, have 60 days to notify OSHA if they already have the equivalent to an NEP plan or will adopt the federal plan.

What does this mean for EMS providers? 

This should serve as an alert to EMS agencies that they should revisit their safety and risk programs, including their Respiratory Protection Programs, to ensure that they are prepared for a visit from OSHA.

Respiratory Protection Programs

At many EMS agencies, this is part of the bloodborne and airborne protection policies that have been in place for decades.  I caution agencies to review their existing plan against OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Regulations.  Under the regulations, all individuals who are mandated to wear an N95 or other respirator must complete a medical questionnaire that is reviewed by a physician or other healthcare provider prior to the employee having to donning the mask while working.

The regulation provides elements of a Respiratory Protection Program that includes identifying a Respiratory Program Administrator (RPA) that is designated by a Medical Director who will be responsible for developing, maintaining, and ensuring compliance with policies, procedures, and practices relative to the selection, storage, use, and maintenance of respirators.  Additionally, the RPA is responsible for conducting or coordinating all training, fit testing, and recordkeeping required by the regulations.

OSHA has published a Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respiratory Protection Standard.  This is a 124-page document that outlines the Respiratory Protection Standards and provides sample templates and checklists that can be utilized by employers to assist with compliance.  Like with patient care documentation, be sure that your Respiratory Protection Program documentation is sufficiently detailed and includes:

  • A written copy of all current, and past Respiratory Protection Program documentation (P&Ps, etc.)
  • The name of all current and past RPAs
  • All medical determinations (Fit Testing Medical Questionnaire reviewed by MD)
  • All Fit Testing records
  • All Respiratory Protection Program training records
  • Personal Protection Equipment Hazard Assessments
  • All Risk Assessments post employee exposure (Unprotected Exposure Investigation Forms)
  • All exposure control records
  • Documentation demonstrating the method utilized to communicate safety related information to employees.

What do I do if I receive a call from OSHA?

It is unnerving to receive a phone call from a local, state, or federal oversight agency.  However, contact from an oversight agency does not always mean that they have received a complaint.  All U.S. Department of Labor agencies perform outreach in the various regions to educate and engage employers and different industry groups.

That being said, the U.S. DOL is a busy agency, especially during the pandemic.  Most likely, if your organization is being contacted by OSHA, it is due to a complaint, referral, or data targeting run.  The first two are self-explanatory.  A data targeting run is the identification of a specific employer through analysis of data submitted to the agency.  This is typically information such as electronically submitted workplace injury and illness data.

If you receive a call from OSHA, my recommendation is to listen more than you speak. Take copious notes and document the conversation immediately following the call.  The OSHA representative will tell you why they are calling and will likely request various documents or other evidence be sent to their office. Do not expect that they will tell you who complained, and I would not ask.  My suggestion, request that the representative email or fax over a letter identifying the representative, the documents or other information they are seeking, the date that you must furnish the information, and the method upon which they want the information sent.

You may not have firsthand knowledge of the issue or incident that led to the complaint to OSHA. That is okay. You can tell the representative that you and your team will investigate and/or compile the requested information following the call and respond. The investigator does not expect that you will necessarily have all the answers at the time of the call. You should be courteous and responsive but remember that a response that is carefully considered and crafted is likely to lead to the best result.  Do not wing it!  Lastly, no matter whether you know who complained or not, do not take any action that can be viewed as retaliatory against employees.

What do I do if an OSHA Investigator appears at my workplace?

Generally speaking, an OSHA Investigator will not just appear in your workplace.  Not to say that they cannot.  They certainly can.  If an OSHA Investigator comes to your workplace you do have certain rights, but so does OSHA.  OSHA has the right to arrive unannounced, gain access to the workplace without significant delay, and question employees privately.  They will show you their OSHA credentials and you should ask for a business card.

An employer has the right to demand to see an inspection warrant.  This is the document that is the basis for OSHA’s probable cause for the inspection.  However, I do not recommend demanding the inspection warrant.  This will most certainly put you and the OSHA investigator in an adversarial position.  As they say, this can go one of two ways, hard or less hard.

An employer has the right to an opening conference. Many important things can happen during the opening conference. First, you can learn the nature of the complaint and related investigation and attempt keep the scope of the investigation as narrow as possible. Next, you can establish the probable cause for the visit and learn their plans for the investigation.  This will likely include a worksite “walking around” inspection, interviews, document review, etc.  You can better prepare once you know what to expect.

An employer has the right to accompany the OSHA Investigator during their site inspection.  I recommend taking photos of anything that the investigator documents or inspects and documenting physical evidence or documents that they take during the inspection.  You may also ask the investigator for a log of any evidence taken.  Lastly, you should know that the investigator has the right to interview your employees privately.  However, you have the right to be present during any management interview.

Bottom line, you should cooperate with the investigator. They are people too and generally want to help employers be complaint with the law.  They are not looking to find violations. They are looking to ensure compliance and protect workers. From my time working at the U.S. DOL, I can attest that we appreciated cooperative and friendly employers who know the law and can quickly provide the information or documents we are seeking.  The quicker and more responsive I found an employer to be, the greater likelihood my index of suspicion reduced, and that the employer was following the law.

Conclusion

OHSA has identified that the NEP will be in place for the next twelve (12) months.  NEP plans are intended to be temporary but can be extended if the pandemic continues past the anniversary of the plan.   While there were numerous industries listed in the OSHA notice, ambulance service providers were specifically identified as one of the high-risk industries that would be the focus of this new program.

If your service has questions or needs assistance with ensuring that your organization is compliant, be sure to contact hello@ambulance.org for assistance.

CMS Increases Medicare Payment for COVID-19 Vaccinations

CMS Increases Medicare Payment for COVID-19 Vaccinations

 

                                                                        By Brian S. Werfel, Esq.

On March 15, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it would be increasing the Medicare payment amount for administrations of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The original Medicare reimbursement rate depended, in part, on whether the vaccine being administered required a two-dose regimen (as is the case for the Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna vaccines), or a single dose (Johnson & Johnson vaccine).  For vaccinations that require a two-dose regime, CMS initially paid: (1) $16.04 for the administration of the first dose and (2) $28.39 for the administration of the second dose.  For vaccines that require only a single dose, Medicare paid $28.39 for the administration of that single dose.

Effective for vaccinations administered on or after March 15, 2021, CMS has increased these payments to $40 per administration.  Thus, the total reimbursement for a vaccine requiring a single dose will be $40, while the total reimbursement for a vaccine requiring a two-dose regimen will be $80.

CMS | Increased Medicare Payment for Life-Saving COVID-19 Vaccine

From CMS on March 15

Biden-Harris Administration Increases Medicare Payment for Life-Saving COVID-19 Vaccine

On March 15, CMS increased the Medicare payment amount for administering the COVID-19 vaccine. This new and higher payment rate will support important actions taken by providers that are designed to increase the number of vaccines they can furnish each day, including establishing new or growing existing vaccination sites, conducting patient outreach and education, and hiring additional staff. At a time when vaccine supply is growing, CMS is supporting provider efforts to expand capacity and ensure that all Americans can be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Effective for COVID-19 vaccines administered on or after March 15, 2021, the national average payment rate for physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, and many other immunizers will be $40 to administer each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This represents an increase from approximately $28 to $40 for the administration of single-dose vaccines and an increase from approximately $45 to $80 for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines requiring two doses. The exact payment rate for administration of each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will depend on the type of entity that furnishes the service and will be geographically adjusted based on where the service is furnished.

These updates to the Medicare payment rate for COVID-19 vaccine administration reflect new information about the costs involved in administering the vaccine for different types of providers and suppliers, and the additional resources necessary to ensure the vaccine is administered safely and appropriately.

CMS is updating the set of toolkits for providers, states, and insurers to help the health care system swiftly administer the vaccine with these new Medicare payment rates. These resources are designed to increase the number of providers that can administer the vaccine, ensure adequate payment for administering the vaccine to Medicare beneficiaries, and make it clear that no beneficiary, whether covered by private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, should pay cost-sharing for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Coverage of COVID-19 Vaccines:

As a condition of receiving free COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government, vaccine providers are prohibited from charging patients any amount for administration of the vaccine. To ensure broad and consistent coverage across programs and payers, the toolkits have specific information for several programs, including:

Medicare: Beneficiaries with Medicare pay nothing for COVID-19 vaccines and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible.

Medicare Advantage (MA): For calendar years 2020 and 2021, Medicare will pay providers directly for the COVID-19 vaccine (if they do not receive it for free) and its administration for beneficiaries enrolled in MA plans. MA plans are not responsible for paying providers to administer the vaccine to MA enrollees during this time. Like beneficiaries in Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage enrollees also pay no cost-sharing for COVID-19 vaccines.

Medicaid: State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program agencies must provide vaccine administration with no cost sharing for nearly all beneficiaries during the Public Health Emergency (PHE) and at least one year after it ends. Through the American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, the COVID vaccine administration will be fully federally funded. The law also provides an expansion of individuals eligible for vaccine administration coverage. There will be more information provided in upcoming updates to the Medicaid toolkit.

Private Plans: CMS, along with the Departments of Labor and Treasury, is requiring that most private health plans and issuers cover the COVID-19 vaccine and its administration, both in-network and out-of-network, with no cost sharing during the PHE. Current regulations provide that out-of-network rates must be reasonable, as compared to prevailing market rates, and reference the Medicare reimbursement rates as a potential guideline for insurance companies. In light of CMS’s increased Medicare payment rates, CMS will expect commercial carriers to continue to ensure that their rates are reasonable in comparison to prevailing market rates.

Uninsured: For individuals who are uninsured, providers may submit claims for reimbursement for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals without insurance through the Provider Relief Fund, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

More Information:

 

Webinar 3/25 | What the Vaccine Means for EMS Operations

From EMS.gov

What the Vaccine Means for EMS Operations

Tune in on Thursday, March 25, at 1 pm ET for the latest edition of EMS Focus, a federal webinar series hosted by NHTSA’s Office of EMS

Register Now

Millions of EMS clinicians and members of the public across the nation have now received a COVID-19 vaccine. But exactly what does that mean for EMS systems and organizations? In this webinar, learn what we know, and what we don’t know yet, about how the vaccines are changing our approach to the coronavirus pandemic. You’ll hear from experts helping to create and implement guidance for EMS services during these unprecedented times. They’ll address topics such as:

  • Testing and quarantine implications
  • EMS clinicians who have not been vaccinated
  • Vaccines and coronavirus variants

Register Now

Panelists Include:

Bryan E. Christensen, PhD, is an epidemiologist and industrial hygienist with the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP) in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He is also an environmental health officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. During the COVID-19 response, Bryan has been deployed in several capacities and has served on the Prehospital/EMS Team as part of the Federal Healthcare Resilience Working Group.

Kenneth A. Scheppke, MD, FAEMS, is Florida’s State EMS medical director. A board-certified EMS and emergency physician, he also serves as chief medical officer for several fire-rescue agencies in southeast Florida, and has been a leader in the state’s response to coronavirus.

Jon Krohmer, MD, director of NHTSA’s Office of EMS and team lead for the Federal Healthcare Resilience Working Group EMS/Prehospital Team, will moderate the webinar.

Attendees will be encouraged to submit questions during any point of the discussion. The webinar and Q&A will last approximately one hour.

About EMS Focus

EMS Focus provides a venue to discuss crucial initiatives, issues and challenges for EMS stakeholders and leaders nationwide. Be sure to visit ems.gov for information about upcoming webinars and to view past recordings.

CMS | Updated Nursing Home Visitation Guidelines

From CMS on March 10, 2021

 CMS Updates Nursing Home Guidance with Revised Visitation Recommendations

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued updated guidance today for nursing homes to safely expand visitation options during the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency (PHE).

This latest guidance comes as more than three million doses of vaccines have been administered within nursing homes, thanks in part to the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization for emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the updated guidance, facilities should allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless certain scenarios arise that would limit visitation for:

  • Unvaccinated residents, if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated;
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions; or
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

The updated guidance also emphasizes that “compassionate care” visits should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status, the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate, or an outbreak. Compassionate care visits include visits for a resident whose health has sharply declined or is experiencing a significant change in circumstances.

CMS continues to recommend facilities, residents, and families adhere to the core principles of COVID-19 infection control, including maintaining physical distancing and conducting visits outdoors whenever possible. This continues to be the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly if either party has not been fully vaccinated.

“CMS recognizes the psychological, emotional and physical toll that prolonged isolation and separation from family have taken on nursing home residents, and their families,” said Dr. Lee Fleisher, MD, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. “That is why, now that millions of vaccines have been administered to nursing home residents and staff, and the number of COVID cases in nursing homes has dropped significantly, CMS is updating its visitation guidance to bring more families together safely. This is an important step that we are taking, as we continue to emphasize the importance of maintaining infection prevention practices, given the continued risk of transmission of COVID-19.” 

High vaccination rates among nursing home residents, and the diligence of committed nursing home staff to adhere to infection control protocols, which are enforced by CMS, have helped significantly reduce COVID-19 positivity rates and the risk of transmission in nursing homes.

Although outbreaks increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as long as there is evidence that the outbreak is contained to a single unit or separate area of the facility, visitation can still occur.

For additional details on the updated nursing home visitation guidance released today, visit here: https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/nursing-home-visitation-covid-19-revised

A Fact Sheet can be found here: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cms-updates-nursing-home-guidance-revised-visitation-recommendations

Treatment In Place in Senate Draft

Ambulance Treatment in Place Bill Included in Senate Draft Budget Reconciliation Package

The draft bill by Senate Democrats on a Budget Reconciliation package includes the language of S. 149 which would waive the transport requirement under Medicare for certain 9-1-1 ground ambulance services during the public health emergency. The Senate is expected to consider the package as soon as tomorrow.

Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced S. 149 on February 3 which is supported by the AAA, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Firefighters, National Volunteer Fire Council and National Association of EMTs.

Under S. 149, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would have the authority to waive the requirement that a patient must be transported to a medical facility in order for a ground ambulance service organization responding to a 9-1-1 emergency call to be reimbursed by Medicare when there is a community-wide EMS protocol restricting the transport of the patient.  Ground ambulance service organizations whose paramedics and EMTs are on the frontlines of this pandemic are struggling financially due to the reduction in ambulance transports and higher costs such associated with responding to medical emergencies that cannot be reimbursed because of the transportation requirement. S. 149would greatly help address part of that problem and recognizes the critical role that ground ambulance service organizations are playing in controlling hospital surges and reducing the spread of COVID-19 .”

The House has already passed their version of Budget Reconciliation and would still need to pass a Senate version before sending to the President. S. 149 would provide CMS with the authority and, if passed, the AAA would advocate for the agency to exercise that authority and follow through with the waiver starting at the beginning of the public health emergency.

Childcare Benefit: Kindercare Discount & Priority Placement

AAA understands that EMS staff often experience significant challenges securing quality, reliable childcare, and that these challenges have been exacerbated by school and daycare closures caused by COVID-19. We are here to help!

The American Ambulance Association is proud to share that we have partnered with Kindercare to offer EMS providers priority childcare placement as well as a 10% discount on tuition. Please share this information with your staff! Visit www.kindercare.com/aaa for full details.

Kindercare Locations

AAA member employee families receive priority placement at all 1600 Kindercare centers.

Childcare Services & Age Range

AAA member employees save 10% on full-time, part-time, and drop-in tuition for children ages six weeks to 12 years at any KinderCare Learning Center or Champions before- and after-school sites nationwide.

Existing  Kindercare Families

This offer is available to new families as well as those already enrolled in a participating center.

Tuition Discount Guide

  1. Search for a center or site that is near you (Search All Centers)
  2. Schedule a tour of the center or site online or by phone with the center information provided.
  3. When you enroll (or if you’re already enrolled), let your Center Director know you are a member of American Ambulance Association and that you are eligible for a 10% tuition benefit.
  4. Your Center Director will apply the discount on your next billing cycle.

 

Updated CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

This past week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated their guidance related to the COVID-19 vaccination. The guidance modifies the quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals who were exposed to COVID-19. The guidance is a small sign of progress for many EMS organizations who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Under the most recent guidance, those individuals who are fully vaccinated (defined as those who are two weeks following the second dose administration), are within three months following the last dose in the series and have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure, are not required to quarantine. Individuals who do not meet all three criteria, must follow the current quarantine guidance. The guidance recommends that individuals who meet all three criteria should continue to monitor for COVID-19 related symptoms for two weeks following the exposure. If symptoms develop, individuals should be tested.

Many EMS organizations have inquired if the administration of the COVID-19 vaccination to their workforce modifies the state-level mask mandates or other bloodborne/airborne pathogen protection practices or procedures that are currently in place at EMS organizations or other healthcare facilities.  While the roll-out of the vaccination is a step in the direction of returning to a “new normal”, employers should know that this does not modify any existing COVID-19 related restrictions or requirements.  Employees should continue to wear masks, socially distance, and follow all other COVID-19 recommended safety precautions.

We will keep you informed of updates to the guidance by the CDC and other regulatory agencies.  Be sure to visit the CDC’s website for more information on the current CDC guidance for COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccination.  As always, if you have questions or need assistance, contact the AAA at hello@ambulance.org.

Senators Wyden & Cortez Masto Propose Mobile Crisis Response Teams

From Chairman Ron Wyden on February 18

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Taylor Harvey   

February 18, 2021

 

WYDEN, CORTEZ MASTO, SENATORS PROPOSE FUNDING TO IMPROVE PUBLIC SAFETY WITH MOBILE CRISIS RESPONSE TEAMS

After Down Payment on the Policy Included in Reconciliation Relief Legislation, CAHOOTS Act Builds on Proven Models to Help Americans with Mental Illness and Enhances Medicaid Funding to States

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and six senators today proposed a bill to help states adopt mobile crisis response teams that can be dispatched when a person is experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) crisis instead of immediately involving law enforcement. The funding is provided through an enhanced federal match rate for state Medicaid programs.

“I’m proud there is a down payment on CAHOOTS in the emergency relief package moving through Congress now,” Wyden said. “Every day there are stories across the country of Americans in mental distress getting killed or mistreated because they did not receive the emergency mental health services they needed. White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Oregon has been a pioneer for years in this area, and it’s high time the CAHOOTS model is made available to states and local governments across the country. I am eager to get the down payment signed into law and continue working to get further investments in mobile crisis services made under the bill across the finish line.”  

“Individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis deserve to be treated with compassion and care by health care and social workers,” Cortez Masto said. “These professionals are extensively trained in deescalating situations and addressing mental health crises, and this legislation would help more states across the country fund mobile crisis teams. I’m hopeful that these investments in community-based crisis intervention services will be included in the final version of the current coronavirus relief package, and I’ll continue to advocate for effective, trauma-informed care for those in need.” 

Earlier this month, the House Energy and Commerce Committee included provision in its budget reconciliation language for COVID-19 relief that makes an investment in these services by funding state Medicaid programs at an enhanced 85 percent federal match if they choose to provide qualifying community-based crisis intervention services and funding state planning grants to apply for the option. The pandemic has taken a serious toll on the mental health and wellbeing of Americans with studies showing a four-fold increase in the rates of anxiety and depressive disorders since the beginning of the pandemic.

The bill, the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) Act, grants states further enhanced federal Medicaid funding for three years to provide community-based mobile crisis services to individuals experiencing a mental health or SUD crisis. It also provides $25 million for planning grants to states and evaluations to help establish or build out mobile crisis programs and evaluate them.

Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., are co-sponsors of the CAHOOTS Act.

A one page summary of the bill can be found here. Legislative text can be found here.

Minnesota | EMS workers adapt and persist, amid stress of pandemic

From Minnesota Public Radio

Comfort in the chaos: EMS workers adapt and persist, amid stress of pandemic

Paramedic Heidi Rennick describes her first COVID-19 call last spring like “walking on to a movie set.”

When she arrived at the hospital, there were COVID-19-only floors, red tape and full beds.

The challenges have mounted since those first cases, and emergency medical services across the state have adapted with new protocols, treatment plans and personal protective equipment — and in some smaller communities, where emergency medical services are volunteer-operated, shifts have been hard to fill.

Rennick, a staff paramedic, and EMT John Aldrich work together for Lakes Region EMS, covering the Chisago Lakes area, north of the Twin Cities.

Continue Reading

EMS.gov | Training Resources for Vaccination Programs Using EMTs

From EMS.gov on February 10

These resources can serve as just in time training for vaccination programs utilizing emergency medical technicians:

Training video on COVID-19 intramuscular vaccine administration
This video created by the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) can be used to provide EMTs with didactic knowledge to administer IM injections. With the exception of the MIEMSS link referenced in the video, it can be used by EMTs in any state or territory. It should be accompanied by a skills assessment, which is discussed below.

Intramuscular Injection Skill Checklist
A clinical skills assessment checklist for EMTs preparing to administer IM injections.

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Training for EMTs
A written description of the skills required of EMTs to administer the vaccine.

Moderna and Pfizer Vaccine Comparison
A simple side-by-side comparison of the Pfizer and Moderna SARS-CoV-2 vaccines

Vaccine Update Video
In this presentation from late January 2021, Florida State EMS Medical Director Kenneth Scheppke, MD, provides an overview of the latest science related to COVID vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccination Training Programs and Reference Materials for Healthcare Professionals
CDC recommended resources to prepare healthcare workers to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

EMS Vaccine Administration Program Manual
This guide from the State of Indiana can serve as a resource to help state and local officials and EMS organizations with the creation and implementation of EMS vaccination programs.

CDC | National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine

Download CDC Fact Sheet

In support of the Biden-Harris administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is organizing a virtual National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine that will bring together practitioners from national, state, tribal, local, and territorial levels who are engaged in vaccinating communities across the nation.

The Forum will facilitate information exchange on the most effective strategies to:

  • Build trust and confidence in COVID-19 vaccines
  • Use data to drive vaccine implementation
  • Provide practical information for optimizing and maximizing equitable vaccine access

Practitioners include representatives of organizations focused on vaccine implementation in communities from:

  • State, tribal, local, and territorial public health departments
  • Healthcare system providers and administrators and their national affiliate organizations
  • Pharmacies
  • Medical and public health academic institutions
  • Community-based health service organizations

Dates and Deadlines:

  • February 9: Registration opens: www.cdc.gov/covidvaccineforum
  • February 16: Last day to register
  • February 22: Building Trust and Vaccine Confidence
  • February 23: Data to Drive Vaccine Implementation
  • February 24: Optimize and Maximize Equitable Access

Download CDC Fact Sheet