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Eye on Washington – July 16, 2018
Last week the House passed the “Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act” (H.R. 5739); the “Options Markets Stability Act” (H.R. 5749); the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act” (H.R. 200); the “Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act” (H.R. 3281); the “Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019” (H.R. 6237); and the “Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act” (H.R. 50).
Last week the Senate voted to confirm the following nominees: Mark Bennett, to be a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Ninth Circuit; Brian Benczkowski to be an Assistant Attorney General and Paul Ney, Jr. to be General Counsel, Department of Defense.
This week’s House of Representatives floor schedule includes votes on: the “Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019” (H.R. 6147); and a resolution “[e]xpressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy” (H.Con.Res. 119).
On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to consider legislation to “authorize the National Emergency Medical Services Memorial Foundation to establish a commemorative work in the District of Columbia and its environs…” (H.R. 1037). The Senate approved its version of the legislation (S. 1692) on March 8, 2018.
On Monday, the Senate reconvened and resumed consideration of the nomination of Scott Stump to be Assistant Secretary of Education for Career, Technical, and Adult Education. Other nominees in the queue for Senate floor debate include: Randal Quarles to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve; Andrew Oldham to be a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Fifth Circuit; and Ryan Bounds to be U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Ninth Circuit.
Hearings and Events This Week
Policy events this week include:
- On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration will convene a meeting of its Drone Advisory Committee at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
- The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Reducing Health Care Costs: Eliminating Excess Health Care Spending and Improving Quality and Value for Patients.”
- The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Combating Fraud in Medicare: A Strategy for Success.”
- The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “Examining State Efforts to Improve Transparency of Health Care Costs for Consumers.”
AAMS fully supports the “Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act” (H.R. 3378 and S. 2121), bipartisan legislation that would 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; and implementation of a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program. 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, bringing the total number of cosponsors to 44:
- 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);
- Steven Palazzo (R-MS);
- John Garamendi (D-CA);
- Sam Graves (R-MO);
- Steve King (R-IA);
- Ralph Abraham (R-LA); and
- Ruben Kihuen (D-NV).
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 these issues, as well as on how to contact your Member of Congress and Senators:
- Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR) tool for contacting Congress in opposition to legislation that would carve air medical services out of the ADA.
- AAMS policy paper, “Separating Fact from Fiction: Common Misconceptions” on the ADA and related issues.
- AAMS background on 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.
AAMS opposes the “Air Ambulance Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2812), which was introduced on May 10, 2018. AAMS also opposes Section 412 of the House-passed “FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018” (H.R. 4). AAMS encourages members to contact their Senators and Members of Congress to ask them to oppose these proposals.
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.