The House and Senate have reconvened for what is expected to be an abbreviated pre-election September session. Congress will need to pass some combination of year-long appropriations bills and a stop-gap continuing resolution to fund federal agencies and programs by the end of the fiscal year on September 30. It is also increasingly likely that the House and Senate will need to send the President a short-term extension of the Federal Aviation Administration authorization as the current extension expires on September 30.
The House floor schedule for this week includes: the “Cyber Deterrence and Response Act of 2018” (H.R. 5576); the “Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act” (H.R. 1635); the “Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act” (H.R. 4606); and the “Community Security and Safety Act of 2018” (H.R. 6691).
Last week, the Senate voted to confirm a number of Executive Branch and Judicial Branch nominations. This week the Senate will continue to consider nominations, and may also vote on “An Act to amend the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act of 2010…” (H.R. 140).
Hearing on Airspace Integration
On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Airspace Integration of New Aircraft”. The hearing is expected to cover both unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and “flying cars”.
As described in the Committee’s “Summary of Subject Matter” memorandum, the hearing will address efforts to integrate new aircraft into the national airspace (NAS), including the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) work on a Low Altitude Authorization and Navigation Capability (LAANC). The hearing will also examine “the development of authorities and processes to counter unlawfully operated UAS for security or safety reasons…”
Scheduled witnesses are:
- Shelley Yak, Director, FAA Technical Center;
- Jay Merkle, Deputy Vice President, Program Management, FAA Air Traffic Organization;
- Tom Prevot, Director of Engineering, Airspace Systems, UberElevate;
- JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Joby Aviation; and
- Mariah Scott, President, Skyward.
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 eliminate the ADA’s coverage of air medical services.
- 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.