Overview

Last week, the Senate voted to approve judicial nominations, including the following U.S. District Court judges: Robert Wier for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Fernando Rodriguez, Jr. for the Southern District of Texas; and Annemarie Carney Axon for the Northern District of Alabama.

On Friday, June 8, the House approved the “Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019” (H.R. 5895) by a 235-179 vote. Last week the House also passed the “Water Resources Development Act of 2018” (H.R. 8); and the “Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act” (H.R. 3).

This week’s House floor schedule includes a series of bills targeting the opioid crisis, including: the “Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms Act” (H.R. 5176); the “Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act of 2018” (H.R. 5327); the “Abuse Deterrent Access Act of 2018” (H.R. 5582); the “Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act” (H.R. 4275); the “Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act of 2018” (H.R. 5788); and the “Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017” (H.R. 2851).

On Monday the Senate voted on the motion to invoke cloture and limit debate on the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019” (H.R. 5515).

Congressional Hearings This Week

This week’s House and Senate hearings include:

  • On June 12, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing titled “The Cost of Prescription Drugs: Examining the President’s Blueprint ‘American Patients First’ to Lower Drug Prices”. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is testifying.
  • On June 15, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “The State of U.S. Public Health Biopreparedness: Responding to Biological Attacks, Pandemics, and Emerging Infectious Disease Outbreaks”.

Member Reminder

AAMS opposes the “Air Ambulance Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2812), which was introduced on May 10. 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.

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.

AAMS fully supports the “Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act” (H.R. 3378 and S. 2121) to 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 in 2021; and implementation of a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program beginning in 2024. 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 42:

  • 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); and
  • Steve King (R-IA).

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), and Todd Young (R-IN) are also cosponsors.

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