Overview

The Senate continued to conduct legislative business last week, approving: a bill to establish the “American Fisheries Advisory Committee” (S. 1322); a bill to “require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire additional Justice Outreach Specialists” (H.R. 2147); a bill to award the “Congressional Gold Medal to Anwar Sadat” (S. 266); the “J. Bennett Johnston Waterway Hydropower Extension Act of 2017” (S. 1142); and the “DOD-Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Act of 2019” (H.R. 6157).

Over the weekend, Senators and other elected officials paid tribute to Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who passed away on Saturday. His funeral services will be held in Washington and he will be the 13th Senator to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

Before recessing for the weekend last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) queued up a number of nominations for potential consideration, including: Lynn A. Johnson, to be Assistant Secretary for Family Support, Department of Health and Human Services; Richard Clarida, to be Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; and Joseph H. Hunt, to be an Assistant Attorney General.

The House continued its August recess last week, but will return to session next Tuesday following Labor Day.

Member Reminder

AAMS fully supports the “Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act” (H.R. 3378 and S. 2121), bipartisan legislation that would address the shortfall in Medicare reimbursements for air medical services. AAMS encourages members to contact their Senators and Members of Congress to ask them to cosponsor the legislation.

The bills would reform the Medicare fee schedule for air ambulance services, starting with a cost reporting and analysis program conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), followed by: rebasing of air medical reimbursements; and implementation of a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program. The bill would enhance transparency by establishing cost and quality reporting requirements, as well as solve for a growing gap between Medicare payments and costs.

Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced H.R. 3378.

The following Members of Congress have cosponsored the bill since its introduction, bringing the total number of cosponsors to 44:

  • Tom Cole (R-OK);
  • Jason Smith (R-MO);
  • Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO);
  • David Loebsack (D-IA);
  • Mike Kelly (R-PA);
  • Kenny Marchant (R-TX);
  • Terri Sewell (D-AL);
  • Ed Perlmutter (D-CO);
  • Julia Brownley (D-CA);
  • Jacky Rosen (D-NV);
  • Ami Bera (D-CA);
  • Scott Tipton (R-CO);
  • Mike Coffman (R-CO);
  • Luke Messer (R-IN);
  • Filemon Vela (D-TX);
  • Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ);
  • Anna Eshoo (D-CA);
  • Martha McSally (R-AZ);
  • Jared Polis (D-CO);
  • Roger Williams (R-TX);
  • Doug LaMalfa (R-CA);
  • David Young (R-IA);
  • Tom Marino (R-PA);
  • Rodney Davis (R-IL);
  • Tom Reed (R-NY);
  • Elise Stefanik (R-NY);
  • Mark Takano (D-CA);
  • Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX);
  • Dina Titus (D-NV);
  • Diane Black (R-TN);
  • Jim Banks (R-IN);
  • Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ);
  • John Faso (R-NY);
  • Pete Aguilar (D-CA);
  • Steven Palazzo (R-MS);
  • John Garamendi (D-CA);
  • Sam Graves (R-MO);
  • Steve King (R-IA);
  • Ralph Abraham (R-LA); and
  • Ruben Kihuen (D-NV).

Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Cory Gardner (R-CO), introduced the Senate version of the bill. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tim Scott (R-SC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), and Doug Jones (D-AL) are also cosponsors.

Additional information on these issues, as well as on how to contact your Member of Congress and Senators:

AAMS opposes the “Air Ambulance Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2812), which was introduced on May 10, 2018. AAMS also opposes Section 412 of the House-passed “FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018” (H.R. 4). AAMS encourages members to contact their Senators and Members of Congress to ask them to oppose these proposals, as well as any similar amendment to the Senate’s “Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017” (S. 1405).

Both S. 2812 and Section 412 of H.R. 4 would exempt air medical services from the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), allowing states to establish a patchwork of regulatory barriers to transporting patients from the scene of a life-threatening illness or accident to the closest appropriate care facility. It is critical to ensure that interstate air medical flights remain unencumbered by regulatory barriers as over 30% of all air ambulance transports cross state lines. Allowing conflicting state regulations could ultimately result in air medical base closures in the rural areas where they are needed the most. Congress must preserve the current framework of the ADA, which allows air medical providers to deliver life-saving services and make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the patient, rather than on arbitrary state, county, or municipal boundaries.