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Eye on Washington – May 14, 2018

Member Alert

AAMS opposes the “Air Ambulance Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2812), which was introduced last week by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). This legislation 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 currently cross state lines. Allowing conflicting state regulations could ultimately result in air medical base closures in the very places that they are needed the most – rural areas. Congress must preserve the current framework of the ADA, which allows air ambulance 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

Last week, the House of Representatives passed: the “Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act” (H.R. 4910); the “Servicemember Family Burial Act” (H.R. 4335); the Congressional Review Act resolution to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) rule “Indirect Auto Lending and Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act” (S.J.Res. 57); the “Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act” (H.R. 5645); and the “Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act” (H.R. 3053). The Senate voted to confirm judicial nominations last week, and also passed the “Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017” (H.R. 931).

On Monday, the Senate reconvened and continued to debate judicial nominations to the U.S. Courts of Appeals. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on a five-year reauthorization of federal farm programs, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018” (H.R. 2).

NTSB Nomination Hearing

On May 16, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on pending nominees, 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 Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

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).

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:

Learn more about AAMS’ Public Policy efforts.