Last week the U.S. House completed its extended series of votes on legislation to address opioid and related issues. The chamber approved bills that included: the “Securing Opioids and Unused Narcotics with Deliberate Disposal and Packaging Act of 2018” (H.R. 5687); the “Stop Excessive Narcotics in our Retirement Communities Protection Act of 2018” (H.R. 5676); the “Individuals in Medicaid Deserve Care that is Appropriate and Responsible in its Execution Act” (H.R. 5797); the “Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act” (H.R. 6082); and the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act” (H.R. 6). The House also passed, by a 213-211 vote, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018” (H.R. 2).
The House floor schedule for this week includes: the “Surface Transportation Security and Technology Accountability Act of 2018” (H.R. 5081); the “Transportation Security Technology Innovation Reform Act of 2018” (H.R. 5730); the “Securing Public Areas of Transportation Facilities Act of 2018” (H.R. 5766); the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019” (H.R. 6157) and the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act” (H.R. 6136).
On Monday, the Senate reconvened and resumed debate on the “Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019” (H.R. 5895).
House Passes the “Supporting Research and Development for First Responders Act”
On June 19, the House passed the “Supporting Research and Development for First Responders Act” (H.R. 4991) by voice vote. Congressman Dan Donovan (R-NY) introduced the bill on February 8, 2018, and the House Homeland Security Committee approved it on June 6, 2018. The legislation will establish the “National Urban Security Technology Laboratory” in the Department of Homeland Security. H.R. 4991 specifies that the “laboratory shall be used to test and evaluate emerging technologies and conduct research and development to assist emergency response providers in preparing for, and protecting against, threats of terrorism.” The laboratory is required to:
- “conduct tests, evaluations, and assessments of current and emerging technologies, including, as appropriate, cybersecurity of such technologies that can connect to the internet, for emergency response providers”;
- “conduct research and development on radiological and nuclear response and recovery”;
- “act as a technical advisor to emergency response providers”; and
- conduct other activities as directed by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Presentation on CBO Model for Estimating Budget Impacts of Health Insurance Legislation
On June 19, the Bipartisan Policy Center hosted a presentation by Congressional Budget Office (CBO) officials on updates to the CBO’s Health Insurance Simulation Model (HISIM). The CBO uses the HISIM in producing estimates of health insurance coverage and premiums for the under-65 U.S. population. CBO is the budget scorekeeping arm of Congress and produces budget estimates and projections for legislative proposals.
This Week’s Congressional Committee Activity
This week’s congressional committee activity includes:
- The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on “Prescription Drug Affordability and Innovation: Addressing Challenges in Today’s Market.”
- The House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the Fiscal Year 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
- The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a subcommittee markup of the Fiscal Year 2019 Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill on Tuesday. The full Senate Committee will mark up the bill on Thursday.
- The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on “How to Reduce Health Care Costs: Understanding the Cost of Health Care in America.”
- The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Medicaid Fraud and Overpayments: Problems and Solutions.”
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.
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), 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 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 43:
- 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); and
- Ralph Abraham (R-LA).
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:
- Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR) tool for contacting Congress in opposition to legislation that would carve air medical services out of the ADA.
- AAMS policy paper, “Separating Fact from Fiction: Common Misconceptions” on the ADA and related issues.
- AAMS background on the need to reform outdated Medicare rates.
- Cosponsors of H.R. 3378.
- Cosponsors of S. 2121.
- The House of Representatives tool for identifying your Member of Congress by zip code.
- The U.S. Senate’s contact information for all 100 Senators.