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AAMS Eye on Washington
September 18, 2017
On July 25, Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced the “Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act of 2017” (H.R. 3378). Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Jason Smith (R-MO) have also cosponsored the bill.
This legislation would reform the Medicare fee schedule for air ambulance services, starting with temporary, noncumulative payment increases to providers (12% in 2018, 20% in 2019, and 20% in 2020), followed by: rebasing of air medical reimbursements in 2021; and implementation of a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program beginning in 2024. The bill would also establish cost and quality reporting requirements.
AAMS fully supports this legislation, and encourages members to contact their Members of Congress to ask them to cosponsor H.R. 3378. The House of Representatives website provides a tool at the top of their homepage for identifying your Member of Congress by zip code.
More Information on H.R. 3378:
- AAMS background on the legislation and the need to reform outdated Medicare rates
- Cosponsors of H.R. 3378
Last week, the House passed a package of Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bills, the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act” (H.R. 3354). The Senate spent much of last week debating the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018” (S. 1519), which it passed on Monday.
The House is on recess this week.
On September 13, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) offered a new proposal for health care reform. They were joined by Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ron Johnson (R-WI). The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal would repeal the structure of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with a block grant given annually to states to help individuals pay for health care. These grants would replace federal funds spent on Medicaid expansion, ACA tax credits, cost-sharing reduction subsides, and basic health plan dollars.
The proposal would repeal the individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax. It would maintain the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions, and seeks to eliminate the inequality in federal funding states receive under the ACA, bringing all states to funding parity by 2026. The proposal also equalizes treatment between Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states through an equitable block grant distribution. The aim is to provide states with resources and flexibility to allow for innovation that lowers premiums and expands coverage.
The Senators are still awaiting a score from the Congressional Budget Office. Graham has said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has encouraged Senators to “jump on board” and predicted the proposal already had 47 or 48 votes. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) is said to be measuring support.
The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that Republicans have until September 30 to pass health care legislation utilizing the “reconciliation” process, which would allow the bill to be passed with just 50 votes in the Senate. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has already said he does not support the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal.
Details of the proposal can be found here.
With the House on recess this week, and the current FAA authorization expiring on September 30, Congress must pass a short-term extension for the FAA and aviation programs next week.