Tag: COVID-19

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.

CMS Bolsters Payments for At-Home COVID-19 Vaccines

From CMS on June 9, 2021

Biden Administration Continues Efforts to Increase Vaccinations by Bolstering Payments for At-Home COVID-19 Vaccinations for Medicare Beneficiaries

As part of President Biden’s commitment to increasing access to vaccinations, CMS announced an additional payment amount for administering in-home COVID-19 vaccinations to Medicare beneficiaries who have difficulty leaving their homes or are otherwise hard-to-reach. This announcement further demonstrates continued efforts of the Biden-Harris Administration to meet people where they are and make it as easy as possible for all Americans to get vaccinated. There are approximately 1.6 million adults 65 or older who may have trouble accessing COVID-19 vaccinations because they have difficulty leaving home.

While many Medicare beneficiaries can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at a retail pharmacy, their physician’s office, or a mass vaccination site, some beneficiaries have great difficulty leaving their homes or face a taxing effort getting around their communities easily to access vaccination in these settings. To better serve this group, Medicare is incentivizing providers and will pay an additional $35 per dose for COVID-19 vaccine administration in a beneficiary’s home, increasing the total payment amount for at-home vaccination from approximately $40 to approximately $75 per vaccine dose. For a two-dose vaccine, this results in a total payment of approximately $150 for the administration of both doses, or approximately $70 more than the current rate.

“CMS is committed to meeting the unique needs of Medicare consumers and their communities – particularly those who are home bound or who have trouble getting to a vaccination site. That’s why we’re acting today to expand the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine to people with Medicare at home,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-Lasure. “We’re committed to taking action wherever barriers exist and bringing the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to the door of older adults and other individuals covered by Medicare who still need protection.”

Delivering COVID-19 vaccination to access-challenged and hard-to-reach individuals poses some unique challenges, such as ensuring appropriate vaccine storage temperatures, handling, and administration. The CDC has outlined guidance to assist vaccinators in overcoming these challenges. This announcement now helps to address the financial burden associated with accommodating these complications.

The additional payment amount also accounts for the clinical time needed to monitor a beneficiary after the vaccine is administered, as well as the upfront costs associated with administering the vaccine safely and appropriately in a beneficiary’s home. The payment rate for administering each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the additional in-home payment amount, will be geographically adjusted based on where the service is furnished.

How to Find a COVID-19 Vaccine:

As this action demonstrates, a person’s ability to leave their home should not be an obstacle to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. As states and the federal government continue to break down barriers – like where vaccines can be administered – resources for connecting communities to vaccination options remain key. Unvaccinated individuals and those looking to assist friends and family can:

  • Visit vaccines.gov (English) or vacunas.gov (Spanish) to search for vaccines nearby
  • Text GETVAX (438829) for English or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish for near-instant access to details on three vaccine sites in the local area
  • Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY: 1-888-720-7489) for assistance in English and Spanish

Coverage of COVID-19 Vaccines:

The federal government is providing the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge or with no cost-sharing for all people living in the United States. As a condition of receiving free COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government, vaccine providers cannot charge patients any amount for administering the vaccine.

Because no patient can be billed for COVID-19 vaccinations, CMS and its partners have provided a variety of information online for providers vaccinating all Americans regardless of their insurance status:

  • Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage: Beneficiaries with Medicare pay nothing for COVID-19 vaccines or their administration, and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance or deductible.
  • Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP):State Medicaid and CHIP agencies must cover COVID-19 vaccine administration with no cost sharing for nearly all beneficiaries during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) and for over a year after it ends. For the very limited number of Medicaid beneficiaries who are not eligible for this coverage (and do not receive it through other coverage they might have), providers may submit claims for reimbursement for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to underinsured individuals through the COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), as discussed below. Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, the federal matching percentage for state Medicaid and CHIP expenditures on COVID-19 vaccine administration is currently 100% (as of April 1, 2021), and will remain 100% for more than a year after the COVID-19 PHE ends. The ARP also expands coverage of COVID-19 vaccine administration under Medicaid and CHIP to additional eligibility groups. CMS recently updated the Medicaid vaccine toolkit to reflect the enactment of the ARP at https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/downloads/covid-19-vaccine-toolkit.pdf.
  • Private Plans: The vaccine is free for people enrolled in private health plans and issuers COVID-19 vaccine and its administration is covered without cost sharing for most enrollees, and such coverage must be provided both in-network and out-of-network during the PHE. Current regulations provide that out-of-network rates must be reasonable as compared to prevailing market rates, and the rules reference using the Medicare payment rates as a potential guideline for insurance companies. In light of CMS’s increased Medicare payment rates, CMS will expect health insurance issuers and group health plans to continue to ensure their rates are reasonable when compared to prevailing market rates. Under the conditions of participation in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program, providers cannot charge plan enrollees any administration fee or cost sharing, regardless of whether the COVID-19 vaccine is administered in-network or out-of-network.

The Biden-Harris Administration is providing free access to COVID-19 vaccines for every adult living in the United States. For individuals who are underinsured, providers may submit claims for reimbursement for administering the COVID-19 vaccine through the COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund administered by HRSA after the claim to the individual’s health plan for payment has been denied or only partially paid. Information is available at https://www.hrsa.gov/covid19-coverage-assistance.

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 HRSA. Information on the COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Health Care Providers and Facilities for Testing, Treatment, and Vaccine Administration for the Uninsured Program is available at https://www.hrsa.gov/CovidUninsuredClaim.

More information on Medicare payment for COVID-19 vaccine administration – including a list of billing codes, payment allowances and effective dates – is available at https://www.cms.gov/medicare/covid-19/medicare-covid-19-vaccine-shot-payment.

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.

6/16 | Federal Interagency Committee on EMS Virtual Meeting

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

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

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

Register Now

New FICEMS Strategic Plan

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

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

Download

CMS | Medicare COVID-19 Data Snapshot

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

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

View the Updated Snapshot

US Treasury | Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to Deliver $350 Billion

From the US Treasury on May 10, 2021

Aid to state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments will help bring back jobs, address pandemic’s economic fallout, and lay the foundation for a strong, equitable recovery 

 

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments.  Treasury also released details on the ways funds can be used to respond to acute pandemic-response needs, fill revenue shortfalls among state and local governments, and support the communities and populations hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Eligible state, territorial, metropolitan city, county, and Tribal governments will be able to access funding directly from the Treasury Department in the coming days to assist communities as they recover from the pandemic.

“Today is a milestone in our country’s recovery from the pandemic and its adjacent economic crisis. With this funding, communities hit hard by COVID-19 will able to return to a semblance of normalcy; they’ll be able to rehire teachers, firefighters and other essential workers – and to help small businesses reopen safely,” said Secretary Janet L. Yellen.  “There are no benefits to enduring two historic economic crises in a 13-year span, except for one: We can improve our policymaking. During the Great Recession, when cities and states were facing similar revenue shortfalls, the federal government didn’t provide enough aid to close the gap. That was an error. Insufficient relief meant that cities had to slash spending, and that austerity undermined the broader recovery. With today’s announcement, we are charting a very different – and much faster – course back to prosperity.”

While the need for services provided by state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments has increased —including setting up emergency medical facilities, standing up vaccination sites, and supporting struggling small businesses—these governments have faced significant revenue shortfalls as a result of the economic fallout from the crisis. As a result, these governments have endured unprecedented strains, forcing many to make untenable choices between laying off educators, firefighters, and other frontline workers or failing to provide services that communities rely on. Since the beginning of this crisis, state and local governments have cut over 1 million jobs.

The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provide substantial flexibility for each jurisdiction to meet local needs—including support for households, small businesses, impacted industries, essential workers, and the communities hardest-hit by the crisis. Within the categories of eligible uses listed, recipients have broad flexibility to decide how best to use this funding to meet the needs of their communities. In addition to allowing for flexible spending up to the level of their revenue loss, recipients can use funds to:

  • Support public health expenditures, by – among other uses – funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, mental health and substance misuse treatment and certain public health and safety personnel responding to the crisis;
  • Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including by rehiring public sector workers, providing aid to households facing food, housing or other financial insecurity, offering small business assistance, and extending support for industries hardest hit by the crisis
  • Aid the communities and populations hardest hit by the crisis, supporting an equitable recovery by addressing not only the immediate harms of the pandemic, but its exacerbation of longstanding public health, economic and educational disparities
  • Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have borne and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service during the pandemic; and,
  • Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, improving access to clean drinking water, supporting vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and expanding access to broadband internet.

Insufficient federal aid and state and local austerity under similar fiscal pressures during the Great Recession and its aftermath undermined and slowed the nation’s broader recovery. The steps the Biden Administration has taken to aid state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments will create jobs and help fuel a strong recovery. And support for communities hardest-hit by this crisis can help undo racial inequities and other disparities that have held too many places back for too long.

For an overview of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program including an expanded use of eligible uses, see the fact sheet released today. Find additional details on the state, local, territorial, and Tribal government allocations on the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Webpage.

 

EMS.gov | On-Demand Webinar | Experts Address the Next Phase of the Pandemic

From EMS.gov on April 21

EMS and Public Health Experts Address the Next Phase of the Pandemic

In last month’s EMS Focus webinar, “What the Vaccine Means for EMS Operations,” Florida’s State EMS Medical Director, Kenneth Scheppke, MD, and Commander Bryan Christensen, PhD, with the US Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tackled topics ranging from PPE to quarantine rules to the long-term impacts of the pandemic on EMS.

Download Slide Deck

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
    Lessons learned for the next pandemic

Presenters:

  • 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 the US 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.

ASPR TRACIE Newsletter April 2021

From HHS ASPR TRACIE Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Information Gateway

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

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

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

 

Dr. Christian Dameff, MD

University of California San Diego

Department of Emergency Medicine

200 W. Arbor Dr. #8676

San Diego, CA 92103

 

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

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

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

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

From CMS on April 12, 2021

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

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

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

Register Now

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

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