Wednesday, March 21st
Please make plans to join AAMS on Capitol Hill as we take to the halls of Congress to advocate for the“Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act” (H.R. 3378 and S. 2121), companion bills that seek to address the shortfall in Medicare reimbursements for air medical services. By bringing in both air medical aircraft and personnel, AAMS hopes to increase awareness and visibility of these important services which are often seen in only the most dire of emergency circumstances. AAMS believes that the best way to increase public awareness of the value of these services and the highly advanced medical and aviation technology employed by air medical helicopters in their emergency medical mission, is to provide the public and our elected legislators with a firsthand experience of those aircraft provided by the highly trained flight crew members themselves. Contact Chris Eastlee at email@example.com if you plan to attend.
Unable to attend? Schedule conflict?
Not a problem, you can still lend your voice to the effort.
The House and Senate are in recess this week and will reconvene on Tuesday, February 27. Last week, the House approved: “The Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act” (H.R. 3542); the “TRID Improvement Act” (H.R. 3978), which amends the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act regarding mortgage disclosures; the “Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017” (H.R. 3299); and the “Americans with Disabilities Act Education and Reform Act of 2017” (H.R. 620). During the week of February 12, the Senate passed the “Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act” (H.R. 1725); the “Veterans Care Financial Protection Act” (H.R. 3122); and the “Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act” (S. 946).
On Monday, February 12, the Trump Administration released the President’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal.
Hearing on Health Care Industry Consolidation
On February 14, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing titled “Examining the Impact of Health Care Consolidation”. The hearing focused on hospital mergers, hospital-physician integration, and insurance industry consolidation. As described in an Energy and Commerce Committee background memo, the hearing was intended “to examine consolidation trends in the health care sector, the reasons behind those trends, and the effects they have on the cost and quality of care.” In his opening statement at the hearing, Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Greg Harper (R-MS) observed that “[w]hile there are numerous factors contributing to the rising costs of health care, reports and studies show consolidation is a contributing factor.” He added that consolidation in the health care sector has “been occurring for decades among hospitals, doctors, the pharmaceutical industry, and insurance companies.” Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO) remarked in her opening statement that “when insurance companies are able to pool their market power to negotiate lower rates, there can be positive results – but not when they push all other competitors out of the market, or when the savings are not passed down to consumers.”
FAA to Hold Annual UAS Symposium
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will hold its third annual Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium on March 6-8 in Baltimore, Maryland. The event will “focus on initiatives to meet the technical challenges facing UAS operations and industry partnerships to safe integration.”
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); and
- Tom O’Halleran.
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) have also cosponsored the bill.
More Information on the legislation, as well as on how to contact your Member of Congress and Senators:
- AAMS background on the legislation and 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.