While the Senate has cancelled most of its planned August recess, the House is set to adjourn for a month after its final votes on Thursday.
On Monday, the Senate reconvened and returned to debate on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs. While efforts continue to bring the “Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017” (S. 1405) to the Senate floor for debate, it appears unlikely that the bill will be considered before the end of the week.
This week’s House floor schedule includes the following health care bills:
- The “Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2018” (R. 959);
- The “Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness Act of 2018’’ (R. 3728);
- The “Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act” (R. 1678);
- The “Dr. Benjy Frances Brooks Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2018” (R. 5385);
- The “Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Transparency Act of 2018’’ (R. 6138);
- The “Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2017” (R. 184), legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act tax on medical devices; and
- The “Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018” (R. 6199).
Last week, House passed the “JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018” (S. 488); the “Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018” (H.R. 3030); the “Protecting Diplomats from Surveillance Through Consumer Devices Act” (H.R. 4989); and the “Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019” (H.R. 6147).
During last week’s session, the Senate: passed a bill “to delay the reduction in Federal medical assistance percentage for Medicaid personal care services furnished without an electronic visit verification system” (H.R. 6042); confirmed Scott Stump to be Assistance Secretary of Education for Career, Technical, and Adult Education; confirmed James Blew to be Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development; confirmed Randal Quarles to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve; and confirmed Andrew Oldham to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
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, as well as any similar amendment to the Senate’s “Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017” (S. 1405).
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.
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), Todd Young (R-IN), and Doug Jones (D-AL) 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.