The American Ambulance Association is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 AAA Legislative Awards, in recognition of their strong advocacy for emergency medical services. Each legislator was chosen for their ongoing dedication to the ambulance services across the United States.
On December 12, 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill (S. 3042) by a 386-47 vote in the House and 87 – 13 vote in the Senate. Included in the final Bill was language similar to the SIREN Act (S. 2830, H.R. 5429) to reauthorize the Rural EMS Grant program.
In an effort to ensure the funding would go to the most needy, small, and rural EMS providers, the language of the amendment and SIREN Act would change the eligibility to just governmental and non-profit EMS agencies. Therefore, small rural for-profit ambulance service providers would no longer be eligible to apply for grants – which haven’t been funded for over a decade. These grants would now provide funds up to $200,000 for training, equipment, and personnel retention in rural areas. The grants also require a 10% contribution by the grant recipient.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will issue a guidance with the details on how these grants will be administered. Since the program has been unfunded for so long, it is unclear at this time, how it will be rolled out. HRSA will most likely follow past protocol providing details through guidance including how to submit and deadlines. The AAA will be sure to share additional details as soon as they become available.
While the AAA had advocated that language be revised to ensure small rural for-profit providers would still be able to apply for grants, we are happy to see this program reauthorized. The AAA was concerned not to push too hard for any changes because the House-passed version of the Farm Bill did not include the SIREN Act provision and didn’t want to give lawmakers any reason not to include the provision in the final Farm Bill.
Special thanks to the IAFC and NAEMT, and other partner organizations for all of their work in getting this legislation passed. The AAA would also like to thank members Congress who advocated for the passage of the SIREN Act including Senators Durbin, Roberts and Stabenow.
Happy National Rural Health Day! Thank you to all of the ambulance service providers who work hard providing life-saving treatment in rural areas every day.
In part of our ongoing advocacy efforts, the AAA sent a letter today to the Rural Caucuses in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Addressed to leadership of the caucuses, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), and Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), this in-depth letter highlights the critical work that our members do every day around the country and raises important issues affecting the industry. Issues covered in the letter include:
Stabilizing the Ambulance Fee Schedule
Make the add-ons permanent and build them into the base rate
Use new data from the ambulance cost collection program to ensure reimbursement is adequate going forward
New data should be used to assess the problems with the current ZIP-code methodology for determining rural and super-rural services
Ambulance Fee Schedule Reform
Proposed alternative models for rural ambulance services
Encouraging Congress to look at alternative destination options for ambulance service providers
Recognizing Ambulance Services as Providers of Health Care
Moving non-fire-based ambulance services from suppliers to providers under Medicare
The letter also highlights some of the burdensome regulations facing ambulance service providers that the AAA has recommended Congress address through its Red Tape initiative. These include:
Removing Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens:
Reduce the burdens created by the Physician Certificate Statement
Simplify the 855B Ambulance Enrollment Form
Address burdensome requirements of the patient signature on claims and the strict application of the revocation of billing authority
This letter from the AAA to Congressional leaders is just one part of the AAA’s ongoing effort to educate Congress on the crucial role ambulance service providers play in America’s healthcare system. The AAA wants Congress to know that in many rural areas of the country, ambulances are the medical safety net, yet face extreme challenges to staying in business thanks to below cost reimbursement and burdensome regulations. The AAA will continue to pursue this list of priorities with our members next year and going forward.
Senate Committee Releases Draft Package with 5-year Ambulance Extender
The Senate Finance Committee has released a discussion draft of its Medicare provider extender package. A five-year extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance add-ons and a modified version of the cost data collection provision from the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act (S. 967) are included in the package. The ambulance provisions being part of the package marks significant progress in the Senate toward a long-term extension of the add-ons and a model cost data collection system.
A five-year extension of the 2% urban and 3% increases and the super rural bonus payment would provide approximately $1 billion in desperately needed Medicare relief for our industry. Having the increases in place for five years would give ambulance service suppliers and providers greater funding stability and help with long-term budgeting. There are now proposals in both the House and Senate with Committee backing which reflect a five-year extension of the add-ons.
The five-year extension reflects the efforts of our champions in the Senate on S. 967. The cost data collection system is also from S. 967 with modifications. Instead of a random sampling of ambulance service providers and suppliers a minimum of every three years, the sampling would occur each year for three years than a minimum of every three years. Also, in place of a 5% penalty in Medicare reimbursement for not submitting cost data if selected to report data, the penalty would be 10%. There is a hardship clause within the draft for CMS to work with ambulance service suppliers to ensure they are not penalized. The provision is also streamlined from the version introduced in S. 967.
We greatly appreciate the efforts of Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) as champions of S. 967 and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on getting the ambulance provisions into the draft. We also thank Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) as Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the Senate Finance Committee for their support.
While the discussion draft includes the five-year extension of Medicare ambulance add-ons and cost data collection provisions, there is still a long way to go. If your Senators are not already cosponsors of S. 967, please reach out to them today and ask they cosponsor the bill. Write to your Senators using the AAA online letter writing tool below, or go to:https://ambulance.org/advocacy/
Ask your Senators to Support S.967 – 2017 Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act
The current 33-month extension of the Medicare add-on payments is set to expire at the end of December 2017. Losing these add-on payments would be a devastating blow to ambulance services across the country. It is crucial that the payments be made permanent as we push for a long-term solution. More details about the Bill can be found below. Let your Senators know that you support S. 967 — Here are three quick and easy ways to get involved!
Writing to your members of Congress only takes 2 clicks, follow these simple steps:
1. Enter contact information below (required by Congressional offices) and click “Submit”
2. On the next page you’ll see the letter(s) to your Senators – click “Submit Messages”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C.– The American Ambulance Association (AAA) has selected Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas as recipient of an AAA Legislative Recognition Award in honor of his strong advocacy for emergency medical services. Senator Roberts received his award during EMS on the Hill Day events on April 25.
AAA President Mark Postma notes, “We would like to thank Senator Roberts for his commitment to sustainable reimbursement for ambulance services in Kansas and across our nation.”
Senator Roberts was recognized for championing the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act, which would make permanent the current temporary Medicare ambulance add-on increases and the super rural bonus payment. The legislation would also treat ambulance services more like providers of health care services, and require CMS to collect cost data utilizing a methodology that would likely result in usable information and not be an unnecessary burden on rural ambulance services.
Senator Roberts was presented the award by Brandon Beck, President of the Kansas EMS Association (KEMSA), and other KEMSA representatives as well as Shawn Baird of Woodburn Ambulance (OR) AAA Treasurer and Vice Chair of the AAA Government Affairs Committee.
In appreciation of his ongoing service to the ambulance services of the United States, AAA is proud to honor Senator Roberts with a Legislative Recognition Award.
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About the American Ambulance Association
Founded in 1979, the AAA represents hundreds of ambulance services across the United States that participate in emergency and nonemergency care and medical transportation. The Association serves as a voice and clearinghouse for ambulance services, and views prehospital care not only as a public service, but also as an essential part of the total public health care system.
AAA Mission Statement
The mission of the American Ambulance Association is to promote health care policies that ensure excellence in the ambulance services industry and provide research, education, and communications programs to enable its members to effectively address the needs of the communities they serve.
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.