Tag: Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB)

Always In Our Hearts

Please join the American Ambulance Association in honoring those who have fallen serving their communities in the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does it mean to be a hero? Paramedics, EMTs, nurses, and firefighters risk their lives every day to serve on the…

Posted by American Ambulance Association on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Justice Department Responds on PSOB

On April 9, the AAA and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr requesting the Department of Justice extend coverage under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program to all paramedics and EMTs during the COVID-19 national health emergency. While paramedics and EMTs employed by governmental and non-profit EMS agencies are currently eligible for the program, those employed by private for-profit organizations and on the front lines of responding to COVID-19 pandemic are not covered. Read our letter HERE.

On May 22, the AAA received a written response from the DOJ denying any expansion of the PSOB program. They state paramedics and emergency medical technicians employed by private for-profit EMS agencies do not meet the definition of “public safety officers” for purposes of PSOB eligibility as defined under the 1976 PSOB Act despite the waiver of said eligibility requirements by former Attorney General Ashcroft in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Read their Response HERE.

The AAA continues to pursue an expansion of the PSOB program to include all paramedics and EMTs and will push for a legislative solution on Capitol Hill.

Legislative hurdles check hazard pay, PSOB benefits

Frustration mounts as small print delays the HEROES Act, and presents a dual standard for provider benefits for the fallen

May 22 at 2:20 PM | EMS1 | By AAA Communications Chair Rob Lawrence

In  my last EMS One-stop column, I commented on the legislative to-do list to ensure that EMS receives the federal support it deserves right now as we staff the front lines and perhaps brace ourselves for COVID-19 round two as the nation craves a return to the normality and liberty enjoyed before the lockdown.

On May 15, 2020, the much talked about HEROES Act narrowly passed from the U.S. House of Representatives by a 208 to 199 vote to the Republican-controlled Senate.  The HEROES Act proposed $3 trillion in tax cuts and spending to address the negative health and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included benefits for the public safety community, extensions to enhanced unemployment benefits, debt collection relief, direct cash payments to households and possibly even hazard pay.

Continue reading►

AAA/NAEMT Request PSOB Coverage for All Medics During COVID-19

On April 9, the AAA and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr requesting the Department of Justice extend coverage under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program to all paramedics and EMTs during the COVID-19 national health emergency. While paramedics and EMTs employed by governmental and non-profit EMS agencies are currently eligible for the program, those employed by private for-profit organizations and on the front lines of responding to COVID-19 pandemic are not covered. Read Letter HERE.

Update on AAA Legislative Priorities

The American Ambulance Association has been working hard to accomplish the legislative goals of the membership in the 116th Congress. The AAA would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on what we have accomplished thus far in the 116th Congress.

Balance/Surprise Billing

Balance/surprise billing is a hot button issue that recently came into the spotlight at the start of the 116th Congress. With the President’s announcement calling for Congress to pass legislation that would end surprise billing for patients, there has been an increase in Congressional action on the issue including introduced legislation, discussion drafts and hearings in all committees of jurisdiction. The AAA has been working tirelessly with the Congressional committees of jurisdiction to educate Members and staff on the unique characteristics of EMS systems and that it would be inappropriate to apply the same restrictions on balanced billing to ground ambulance services.

The AAA has formed a working group comprised of AAA member volunteers that have worked on policy and messaging on balance billing. The working group has submitted comments to the Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate HELP committees advocating that the ambulance industry is unique from other stakeholders, and as such, should be looked at differently. Ambulance service providers and suppliers are required by law to treat and transport all patients, regardless of their ability to pay and are heavily regulated at the local level. The AAA has been working to communicate these factors that place the ambulance industry in a different situation than many other stakeholders.

Public Safety Officers Death Benefit (PSOB)

The Public Safety Officers Death Benefit (PSOB), a one-time benefit paid to families of first responders killed in the line of duty, is an issue that the AAA has passionately advocated for over many years. In the 116th Congress, the AAA has secured introduction of legislation in the House of Representatives, H.R. 2887, the Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act. H.R. 2887 would extend the PSOB to first responders employed by private for-profit EMS agencies. The AAA was able to secure several commitments from Members of Congress to cosponsor the legislation during Stars of Life meetings in Washington, DC. In addition to taking action to move H.R. 2887 through the legislative process, the AAA will be engaging in an outreach campaign in the next few weeks.

Dialysis Off-Set Restructuring

The AAA has worked toward reintroduction of legislation to restructure the offset that was passed into law in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892) in the 115th Congress. This offset included a total cut of 23% to the Medicare reimbursement for basic life support (BLS) non-emergency transports performed by all ambulance service suppliers and providers to and from dialysis centers. This cut served as an offset to the 5-year extension of Medicare add on payments that our industry worked hard to get extended.

The AAA has secured introduction of legislation in both the House and Senate. H.R. 3021 was introduced by Representatives LaHood (R-IL) and Sewell (D-AL) and S. 228 by Senators Cassidy (R-LA) and Jones (D-AL). If passed, this legislation would change the cut that is currently in place so that it applies specifically to companies conducting over 50% ESRD non-emergency transports. Those ambulance services with over 50% ESRD transports would get a cut of 29.5%, while those doing less would receive a 15.5% cut. The AAA will continue to work toward movement and passage of this legislation that would better distribute the reduction to those providers which do almost exclusively non-emergency dialysis transports and thus have a lower cost of providing services.

Medicare Priorities Bill

The AAA has crafted legislation that is specifically aimed at addressing major Medicare ambulance industry issues. The issues that will be included in future legislation include making Medicare ambulance add-ons permanent, implementing a prior-authorization program across the nation, allowing for transportation to alternative destinations, reducing regulatory burdens, and providing relief through maintaining many zip codes as rural following the next census. The AAA is working to get this Medicare priorities legislation introduced in the coming months so that we can get to work on solving these Medicare issues that impact our industry as a whole.

VA Legislation

Another priority that that the AAA has been diligently working toward getting introduced is Veterans Affairs (VA) legislation. The Veterans Reimbursement for Emergency Ambulance Services Act (VREASA) introduced by Congressman Tipton (R-CO) would provide veterans with reimbursement for emergency ambulance services when a Prudent Layperson would have a reasonable expectation that a delay in seeking immediate medical attention will jeopardize the life or health of the veteran. This legislation was introduced as a result of the VA consistently requiring all medical records be provided, including the records of treatment after the emergency service has taken place. Should those records show that it was not a life threatening emergency or a false alarm, the claim for reimbursement is being denied. The VA legislation would mandate that the VA apply the “prudent layperson” definition of emergency to determine coverage of ambulance claims.

The AAA is also working toward addressing two other issues with the VA to enforce more prompt payment by the VA and treating the VA as the first payor, similar to Medicare, as it is determined whether there is a different primary payor. The AAA has been working with Senators Collins and Tester on language help solve this ongoing and serious reimbursement issue.

In our next update, we will be reporting on the progress the AAA has made this year on regulatory issues.

Questions? Contact Us

If you have questions about the discussion draft or balance billing initiatives being undertaken by the AAA, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the AAA Government Affairs Team.

Tristan North – Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
tnorth@ambulance.org | (202) 802-9025

Ruth Hazdovac – AAA Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs
rhazdovac@ambulance.org | (202) 802-9027

Aidan Camas – Manager of State & Federal Government Affairs
acamas@ambulance.org | (202) 802-9026

Thank you for your continued membership and support

House Introduces PSOB Bill (H.R. 2887)

The American Ambulance Association (AAA) is pleased to announce that Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY-01) and Congressman Thomas Suozzi (D-NY-03) have introduced H.R. 2887, the “Emergency Medical Services Providers Protection Act.” This piece of legislation would extend the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit (PSOB) to cover first responders who work for private providers. The PSOB Program provides death and education benefits to survivors of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders, and disability benefits to officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty.

The AAA has advocated tirelessly for years that all first responders killed in the line of duty, should be eligible for this benefit regardless of who their employer is. Many of the nation’s first responders work for more than one EMS Agency. Local communities throughout the country decide which organization is best fit to provide high quality mobile healthcare to their community. For large parts of the country, privately run ambulance services have been providing high quality health care, and responding to the same natural disasters, incidents, etc. as their peers for decades.

It is common for Paramedics and EMTs to also work/volunteer as firefighters and vice versa. Currently, if a line of duty death occurs, whether first responders receive this benefit depends on which uniform they were wearing that day. A firefighter picking up an extra shift with a local ambulance service could end up being ineligible for this benefit if that company happens to be privately run. The AAA believes this legislation acknowledges the vital role that all first responders play in keeping our communities safe and healthy. If passed, this change would apply to injuries sustained on or after March 1, 2007.

The AAA thanks Congressman Zeldin and Suozzi for taking the lead on this critical issue. AAA members are encouraged to contact their representatives about co-sponsoring H.R. 2887. Full text of the Bill is not yet available online but can be read here. Please contact the AAA’s Government Affairs team if you have any questions.

Questions? Contact Us

If you have questions about the discussion draft or balance billing initiatives being undertaken by the AAA, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the AAA Government Affairs Team.

Tristan North – Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
tnorth@ambulance.org | (202) 802-9025

Ruth Hazdovac – AAA Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs
rhazdovac@ambulance.org | (202) 802-9027

Aidan Camas – Manager of State & Federal Government Affairs
acamas@ambulance.org | (202) 802-9026

Thank you for your continued membership and support.

Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB)

For many years, one of the top legislative priorities of the AAA has been the expansion of the Public Safety Officer’s Benefits (PSOB) to all private emergency medical services (EMS) professionals.  Originally, Congress established the PSOB program to provide assistance to police officers, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMT) in the event of a death in the line of duty.  However, the benefits only apply to those public safety officers employed by a federal, state, or local government entity or a private non-profit emergency medical services agency or company.

Paramedics and EMTs employed by a private, for-profit EMS company provide identical services to their governmental and private non-profit counterparts and do so daily in the same dangerous environments. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is presently reviewing its guidelines on “active shooter” and may revise its policy of paramedics and EMTs waiting until a scene is secure before entering to provide urgent medical care to a victim. While paramedics and EMTs employed by private EMS companies already put the lives of others first, the review of the FEMA guidelines as federal policy puts a greater emphasis on the need to apply the federal PSOB program to all first responders.

The Dale Long Act, 2012

In 2012, our voice was heard when the Dale Long Act (S. 385, Public Law 112-239) was signed into legislation.  The act extends the PSOB program to employees and volunteer members of non-profit EMS organizations.  While we would have liked to see the benefits extended to all EMS professionals, both public and private, we celebrated the victory and continue to fight for complete coverage.

It is inequitable to penalize dedicated public safety officers and their families simply because of their employer type and it is now time for Congress to fully correct this disparity and legislate that the PSOB program cover those paramedics and EMTs employed by a private EMS company.

What You Can Do to Help

Currently, the AAA is continuing efforts to find House and Senate sponsors for expansion of the PSOB to for-profit service providers.  In the past, members of Congress have been motivated to act by specific examples of inequity within their states and districts.  If you have a strong relationship with your elected officials and feel that you can help with this issue, please contact Tristan North, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, at tnorth@ambulance.org.