Overview

The U.S. House and Senate returned this week from the Memorial Day recess.

The House floor schedule for this week includes: the “Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019” (H.R. 5895); the “Water Resources Development Act of 2018” (H.R. 8); and the “Free Veterans from Fees Act” (H.R. 3997).

When the Senate reconvened on Monday, it resumed debate on the nomination of Robert Earl Wier to be a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Debate on other nominations is also expected this week in the Senate.

Congressional Hearings This Week

This week’s House and Senate hearings include:

  • On June 6, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “Examining the Reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act”. The hearing will review the “Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2018’’ discussion draft.
  • Also on Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Lowering Costs and Expanding Access to Health Care through Consumer-Directed Health Plans.”

Member Reminder

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:

  • 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); and
  • Steven Palazzo (R-MS)

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 the legislation, as well as on how to contact your Member of Congress and Senators:

Member Alert: Preserve Access to Air Medical Services

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). 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.