After countless hours of work by the American Ambulance Association’s (AAA) legislative team, our champions on Capitol Hill, volunteer leaders, members and other organizations, we are pleased to once again announce the 33-month extension of Medicare ambulance relief. This extension will continue the 2% bonus for urban areas, the 3% bonus for rural transports and the bonus payment for super rural areas. This is a major victory for the AAA and its members as the extension will supply important funding to allow ambulance services to continue to provide essential medical care to their communities.
That being said, we can’t let the momentum stop! The AAA is still fighting and pushing on Capitol Hill for a permanent extension of Medicare relief rather than a temporary fix. With a short-term extension it remains difficult for ambulance services to properly budget for the future and prepare for the uncertainties of being a health care provider. The AAA continues to seek support and cosponsors for the Medicare Ambulance, Access, Fraud Prevention, and reform Act of 2015 (S. 377, H.R. 745). In addition to permanent Medicare ambulance relief, this bill includes several additional provisions that will help ambulance services to grow and provide critical care services to patients. These additional provisions include:
– Categorizing ambulance services as “providers” rather than “suppliers”. The AAA wants its members and all ambulance services to be recognized properly for the medical services they provide. As you are aware, an ambulance is often the first place that a patient is provided critical care and service. For this reason, the bill includes language that would recognize ambulance services as “providers” rather than “suppliers”.
– Prior Authorization Program. The same bill that extended Medicare ambulance relief for 33 months also included a prior authorization program that would extend to several states on the East Coast in 2016 and nationwide in 2017. The AAA is working with legislators on Capitol Hill, our Medicare Consultants, and AAA members to help with the roll-out of the prior authorization program. Keep your eyes peeled for further information and resources that the AAA will be providing.
– Ambulance Cost Data Collection. The bill directs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to use a survey approach to collecting cost data from a statistically significant number of ambulance service providers. It is critical that Congress have cost data from all the different types of providers to make future changes to the ambulance fee schedule.
With each of these significant provisions, the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act of 2015 will help position AAA members and ambulance services for the future. It will provide critical funding as well as opportunities for recognition, growth and knowledge.
Shawn Baird, Co-Owner of Woodburn Ambulance Service and Co-Chair of the AAA’s Government Affairs Committee, said this about the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act of 2015…
“While the extension of our temporary ambulance relief provides hard earned breathing room, it is more essential than ever to get members of Congress signed on as co-sponsors of our permanent ambulance relief bills S. 377 and H.R. 745. Using this precious time to secure permanent funding, data collection that works for the industry and provider status with CMS is the only way we will be able to keep our issue a priority on Congress’s busy agenda. In our ambulance services at home we all know how important it is to keep pushing our companies to be ready for that next emergency call. We never say it’s time to sit back and relax now that we ran that last call. It is the same with our effort on Capitol Hill. We have been building success and let’s keep it rolling forward!”
The American Ambulance Association asks that you help in our efforts to make Medicare ambulance relief permanent! Please contact your members of Congress using the AAA’s online letter writing tool and ask them to co-sponsor the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Acts (S. 377 and H.R. 745).
Each member of the AAA plays a critical role in helping to achieve success in our legislative efforts. With your help and expertise, we look to continue to represent you and your interests on Capitol Hill.