Massachusetts Legislative Update

Last week the Senate passed a measure (HB 4640) that would raise the Massachusetts Minimum Wage to $15.00 per hour incrementally over the next five years. The Bill would also phase out the time and a half pay that some retail establishments who currently must pay employees who work on Sundays and certain holidays and establishes a permanent tax holiday. Governor Baker and Massachusetts law makers were eager to move this initiative in an effort to block a ballot initiative. The Bill would also establish a paid family and medical leave program for workers. The paid leave program will be funded by a new .63% payroll tax with contributions from both employers and employees. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees will not have to contribute to the fund. The program would go into effect on January 1, 2021 and would provide for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave, 20 weeks of medical leave, up to a total of 26 weeks in a year. Workers on leave would be paid a portion of their weekly wage with the average cost being $4.25 per employee per week. The Bill has been sent to Governor Baker’s office for consideration but will...

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July Brings Legal Changes for Employers in Many States

Oregon Statewide Transit Tax Important notice to ambulance service employers based in the state of Oregon: there is a new statewide transit tax taking effect on July 1, 2018. Beginning July 1st, employers must start withholding a tax of 1/10th of 1% from the wages of Oregon residents or from non-residents who perform services in Oregon. The Department of Revenue has published detailed information on the statewide tax with a list of available resources to assist employers with compliance. Iowa Lowers Standard for Positive Alcohol Tests Effective July 1, 2018, Iowa employers may lower their standard for taking employment action for positive alcohol tests from the old state standard of .04 to .02. Iowa has one of the strictest employment drug and alcohol testing requirements in the country. Employers are required to have a written policy that is distributed to all employees and job candidates for their review. Employers must establish a drug and alcohol awareness program alerting employees of the dangers of drug and alcohol use in the workplace, and most employees must be provided an option to enter a rehabilitation program instead of being disciplined. In addition, all supervisory staff must attend a two-hour initial drug and alcohol...

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Statement for NBC Nightly News Balance Billing Story 3/9/18

Last night, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt ran a segment on ambulance balance billing. Although provided with a brief one-paragraph statement in advance, they chose to use less than one sentence of it during the broadcast. We have reproduced our original statement below to provide additional context. For a better understanding of the forces driving the costs behind ambulance care, please see this recent longer media response by American Ambulance Association President Mark Postma. Video Story Original Statement Provided by American Ambulance Association Emailed to Eric Salzman on January 28, 2018 | Very brief due to TV news format Ambulance providers, both private and public, serve their communities with lifesaving on-demand mobile healthcare 24/7, regardless of patients’ ability to pay. Ambulance services are saddled with a high cost of readiness as they keep certified personnel, sophisticated technology, and costly medications ready round-the-clock. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance often reimburse ambulance services at rates below the costs of providing this care, endangering their ability to continue serving families in their time of extreme need. Ambulance services bill patients as a last resort: This necessity is driven by a complex combination of rising patient deductibles, reduced insurance coverage, and unfair contractual (more…)

EMS Week Contest Winners Announced

EMS professionals across the country recently celebrated EMS Week, held May 21-27, by hosting a variety of activities, memorials and both fun-filled and informative events. The AAA asked our members to tell us about some of their favorite ways they honored and celebrated their profession throughout the week, and we have selected three stories as our EMS Week contest winners. Here are some of the highlights: LifeCare Medical Transports (Fredericksburg, VA): “This year’s EMS Week began with us honoring those who gave their lives so that others might live, at our National EMS Memorial Service. On Sunday, May 21, we co-hosted the EMS Service Cyclists for a dinner on their stop in Fredericksburg, VA. The remainder of the week consisted of fun yet educational online EMS Challenges each day, with participants being entered into raffles for great prizes. All employees received a letter from our leadership, as well as EMS gift bags.” Armstrong Ambulance Service (Arlington, MA): “We love celebrating our employees every year with a week-long celebration of EMS Week. We annually begin the week with breakfast catered to the bases. This year, we brought carnival food trucks to the bases for a catered lunch of fair food favorites, including hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages and fried dough. On (more…)

Congressman Richard Neal to Receive AAA Legislative Honor

Congressman Richard Neal to Receive AAA Legislative Recognition Award For Immediate Release Contact: Amanda Riordan ariordan@ambulance.org 703-610-0264 Washington, DC, – The American Ambulance Association (AAA) will honor Congressman Richard Neal of Massachusetts with a Legislative Recognition Award in appreciation of his advocacy for emergency medical services. Congressman Neal will be presented this award in June in Washington, DC by AAA’s Massachusetts Stars of Life—EMS personnel selected for their excellence and dedication. This year’s Stars from the Bay State are Kerry Flynn, and Beth Keegan of Armstrong Ambulance Service; Matthew Miner, Mark Hogue, and Paige Hoffman of Action Ambulance Service Inc.; and Deanne Lione, and Andrea Ball of Cataldo Ambulance Service. Congressman Neal was selected for the Legislative Recognition Award for being a champion of the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act which would make permanent the current temporary Medicare ambulance add-on increases of 2% urban and 3% urban and the super rural bonus payment. The legislation, HR 745 from the 114th Congress, would also treat ambulance services more like providers of health care services and require CMS to collect cost data utilizing a survey methodology that would result in usable information for future reform of the Medicare ambulance (more…)

Cataldo Ambulance Service Wellness Couch to 5K

In October 2016, Kelli Megill, a Human Resources Generalist at AAA member company, Cataldo Ambulance Service based in Somerville, MA, attended the safety symposium hosted by their worker’s compensation carrier. Much of the symposium focused on why employees get hurt and what employers can do to help stop the trend. A reoccurring thread in all of the most effective injury prevention programs was promoting the fitness and wellness of an organization’s employees. Kelli decided to launch what has been the most embraced wellness initiative in the 40 year history of the company. The Cataldo Couch to 5K Program began about 8 weeks ago and culminating with the 5K road race/walk on June 5th. Kelli pitched the program to the other members of the Human Resources team and Ron Quaranto, the Chief Operating Officer (AAA Region 1 Director). The program now has over 100 employees participating in the program which is more than just the run/walk on June 4th. Cataldo has tackled wellness events in the past, including the company hockey team, Spartan races, and other chartable road races. The company, which provides emergency services to several of the communities along the Boston Marathon route, sponsored several employees to run the...

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2017 AAA Legislative Awards

The American Ambulance Association is proud to announce the winners of the 2017 AAA Legislative Awards, in recognition of their strong advocacy for emergency medical services. Each legislator was chosen for their ongoing service to the ambulance services of the United States. 2017 AAA Legislator of the Year Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) – Press Release, Facebook Post, Twitter Post 2017 AAA Legislative Recognition Award Recipients Senators Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) – Press Release Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) – Press Release Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – Press Release Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – Press Release Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) – Press Release Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) – Press Release Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) – Press Release Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) – Press Release Representatives Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) – Press Release Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) – Press Release Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) – Press Release Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) – Press Release Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) – Press Release Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) – Press Release Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)...

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2015 Medicare Data Shows Evident of Crackdown on Non-Emergency Transport

2015 Medicare Payment Data Offers Evidence of Nationwide Crackdown on Non-Emergency Ground Ambulance Transportation; Impact Varies Dramatically by Medicare Administrative Contractor Every year, CMS releases data on aggregate Medicare payments for the preceding year. This file is referred to as the Physician/Supplier Procedure Master File (PSP Master File). This past month, CMS released the 2016 PSP Master File, which contains information on all Part B and DME claims processed through the Medicare Common Working File with 2015 dates of service. In September’s blog post, I discussed the results of the first year of the prior authorization demonstration project for repetitive, scheduled non-emergency ground ambulance transports. During this first year, the project was limited to three states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. The data confirms that these three states saw a dramatic reduction in Medicare’s approved payments for dialysis transports. This month, I will be discussing the national payment trends for non-emergency ground ambulance transports, and, in particular, Basic Life Support non-emergencies. In 2015, Medicare paid approximately $990 million for BLS non-emergency transports. This is 13% less than what it paid for BLS non-emergency transports in 2014 ($1.14 billion). Please note that these figures only reflect payments for the base...

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