The House is in recess until Tuesday, September 4. The Senate reconvened on Monday for another week of legislative business. The Senate agenda this week includes:
- The “Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019” (R. 6147);
- The conference report for the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019” (R. 5515); and
- A four-month extension of the federal flood insurance program.
Last week, the Senate passed: legislation “to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006” (H.R. 2353); the “State Offices of Rural Health Reauthorization Act of 2018 (S. 2278); legislation “restricting the Coast Guard from adopting certain biometric security measures” (H.R. 5729); the “Miscellaneous Tariff Bill” (H.R. 4318); and the “Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act” (S. 2503). The Senate also voted to confirm Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Bruce Landsberg and Jennifer Homendy to be members of the National Transportation Safety Board (see below).
The Senate plans to recess for one week following the conclusion of its business this week. Senators continue to work to prepare the “Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017” (S. 1405) for Senate floor debate, however it appears unlikely it will be considered prior to the recess week.
Last week, the House passed the “Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act” (H.R. 4881); and the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019” (H.R. 5515). Prior to departing for the August recess, the House also approved 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. 1676);
- 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;
- The “Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018” (R. 6311); and
- The “Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018” (R. 6199).
Senate Confirms Two NTSB Members
On July 24, the Senate voted to confirm two members of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB): Jennifer Homendy; and Bruce Landsberg. The two join Chairman Robert Sumwalt, Earl Weener, and T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, returning the Board to its full complement of five members. Landsberg, who is the former President of the Airline Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), will serve a five-year term through 2022. President Trump announced Landsberg’s nomination on September 15, 2017, and designated him to serve as Vice Chairman of the Board upon his confirmation. Homendy previously served as the Democratic Staff Director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. She will serve the balance of the five-year term of Mark Rosekind, which extends through December 31, 2019.
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.