Member Alert: Preserve Access to Air Medical Services

AAMS opposes the “Air Ambulance Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2812), which Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) 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 that 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.

Overview

Before adjourning for the week-long Memorial Day recess, the House of Representatives voted to approve: the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019” (H.R. 5515); the “Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017” (H.R. 5682); the “Childhood Cancer STAR Act” (S. 292); the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2155); and the “Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act” (H.R. 3382). During the week of May 22, the Senate voted to confirm nominations, including: Dana Baiocco, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission; Brian Montgomery, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and Jelena McWilliams, to be Chair of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The House and Senate are both in recess this week and will reconvene next week. When the Senate returns on June 4, it will resume consideration of the nomination of Robert Earl Wier to be a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

NTSB Nomination

On May 23, the Senate Commerce Committee held an executive session and voted to favorably report two nominees to the full Senate, including Jennifer Homendy to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Homendy currently serves as the Democratic Staff Director of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee.

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); and
  • 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: