On Thursday, the House passed a continuing resolution to extend funding for federal discretionary programs through February 16th (H.R. 195) by a vote of 230-197. The bill also included an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and provisions delaying implementation of certain health care-related taxes, including the medical device excise tax and the “Excise Tax on High Cost Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage”, also known as the “Cadillac Tax”.
The Senate initially fell short of the required 60-vote threshold, with a 51-49 vote, to invoke cloture and limit debate on the legislation. With the failure of the Senate to pass the bill, funding for many federal agencies and programs lapsed at 11:59 p.m. on January 19th.
On Monday, following negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), the Senate voted 81-18 to approve a revised continuing resolution that extends funding through February 8th. The House later approved this bill and sent it to the President for his signature.
This recent funding lapse did not affect all federal programs. Entitlement spending, which is not subject to annual appropriations, continued. Federal entitlement programs include Social Security and Medicare. Therefore, there was no disruption in the processing and payment of Medicare claims.
Another exception to the gap in appropriations is the continuation of “essential functions.” These include activities where “the suspension of the function would imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property.” The FAA issued a brief statement about how it would carry out these functions: “Due to a lapse in funding, the FAA will only continue ‘exempt’ activities such as air traffic control and safety inspections. There will be no impact to safety or safety oversight for the traveling public.”
The Department of Transportation’s “Operations During a Lapse in Annual Appropriations Plans by Operating Administration” provides additional details on what FAA functions would continue or suspend during a government shutdown.
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); and
- Mike Coffman (R-CO).
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) and Tim Scott (R-SC) 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.
- 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.