Dear Fellow AAA Members,
As I reflect on the past few months, I am awed by the dedication of ambulance services across the nation as they responded to emergencies ranging from hurricanes to wildfires to the Las Vegas MCI. As always, EMS aided their communities with humanity, efficiency, and deep-rooted professionalism. The outcomes of each of these incidents would assuredly have been far worse without the selfless service of our fellow healthcare providers.
I was privileged to see this commitment to excellence firsthand as our staff at Sunstar responded to Hurricane Maria here in Florida, assisted by hundreds of EMTs, Paramedics, and strike team leaders who drove hours or days to help. Thanks to each of you for your service in our country’s time of need.
The AAA continues working hard to ensure the Medicare add-on payments don’t expire at the end of this year. In the Senate, S. 967 would make the add-on payments permanent. In the House, two versions of a bill (H.R. 3236, H.R. 3729) would extend the payments for five years. Extensions of Medicare provider provisions, including the ambulance add-on payments, will likely be addressed closer to the end of the year.
We have seen progress already in the House on the ambulance add-ons. On September 11, the House Ways and Means Committee marked up H.R. 3729, the Comprehensive Operations, Sustainability, and Transport Act of 2017. Similar to H.R. 3236, which the AAA supports, H.R. 3729 would extend the Medicare add-on payments for five years and require ambulance service suppliers to report cost data. However, H.R. 3729 would subject suppliers to an overpayment penalty which could potentially put all Medicare payments at risk for a supplier who does not submit timely, accurate, and complete data.
H.R. 3729 also includes a 22% across-the-board cut to all ambulance providers and suppliers for non-emergency BLS transports to and from dialysis centers. The 22% cut was the figure estimated as necessary to offset the cost of the five-year extension of the add-on payments. Since then, the AAA was able to demonstrate to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that our estimate of a five-year extension of the add-ons was the more appropriate approach. As a result, AAA has received a commitment from the Ways and Means Committee to lower the amount of any cut to cover the lower estimate. However, the AAA opposes any across-the-board cut and is working with the Committee and the bill sponsors to focus on addressing fraud and abuse within the dialysis transport benefit.
The AAA is working with key congressional offices as well as industry stakeholders to make changes to H.R. 3729. We remain hopeful that we can come to a consensus on these outstanding issues.
Meanwhile, on the Senate side, S. 967 is up to 12 co-sponsors with the addition of Sen. Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Boozman (R-AR), and Sen. Cassidy (R-LA). AAA encourages members to continue reaching out to their Senators to ask them to co-sponsor S. 967. The AAA will keep you updated on our progress working on extending the add-ons. Thank you for your continued support.
AAA Annual Conference & Trade Show
As we face this challenging political and regulatory climate, it is essential that ambulance leaders stay abreast of new developments and best practices in reimbursement, operations, leadership, and human resources. In addition to myriad industry experts, this year’s AAA Annual Conference & Trade Show program features three inspiring keynotes—Steven M.R. Covey, Mel Robbins, and Dr. Zubin “ZDoggMD” Damania—plus a ceremony honoring AMBY Award winners for their community impact.
I hope that you will join me and hundreds of our colleagues for networking, learning, and fun in Las Vegas November 13–15. Online registration for Annual is open now.
AAA Board Election
It’s that time again! The 2017 AAA Board of Directors election is underway. This year, active members will elect Regional Directors (Regions 1–5) and new members of the Ethics Committee. Voting opened on Wednesday, October 11th, and closes at 11:59pm Eastern on Thursday, November 2nd. Best of luck to all of the candidates! (If you are the primary contact for an active member organization and did not receive your e-ballot, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Renew Your Support of AAA
Has your organization yet renewed its AAA membership? Your continued support is critically important as AAA fights for fair ambulance reimbursement. Membership also include benefits such as free use of the Savvik Buying Group, complimentary CISM and EAP-based counseling for your employees, and access to industry experts on Medicare, operations, and HR.
If you have already renewed, please accept our most sincere thanks. If you have not yet submitted payment for this year’s membership, I encourage you to renew online or reach out to staff at email@example.com for assistance.
Lastly, many of you are aware that during my presidency I began a Capital Campaign to raise $1,000,000 to help sustain our organization and to increase our “rainy day” fund. The funds raised by this effort can only be used in the case of a majority vote by the Board of Directors.
Today, we have raised $250,000 of the $1,000,000 goal, for which I am grateful to our member supporters. But this is not enough—we need to be strong when a crises hits our industry and we must deploy more resources for our advocacy programs. If you have already given, I would ask that you consider another commitment to this fund. If you have not already contributed, I respectfully ask you to support your national association as it works to fight for the future of ambulance services. Thank you in advance! Contribute online now.
It continues to be my pleasure to serve so many talented, dedicated healthcare professionals. Thank you again for your service, and I look forward to seeing you at AAA Annual in Las Vegas!
American Ambulance Association
Representing EMS in America