This is a critical year for the legislative efforts of the American Ambulance Association and our members. First and foremost, our temporary Medicare ambulance increases expire at the end of the year. It is vital that we ensure the new 115th Congress makes these increases permanent, or at the very least approves another long-term extension. To be successful, we will need all of your help in reaching out to your members of Congress in support of the increases.
The AAA and our partners have been also working to further the reform of the Medicare ambulance fee schedule. To accomplish the first steps in this process, ambulance services need to be treated as providers of healthcare services rather than only suppliers of medical transportation. In addition, we will need the cost data necessary for Congress, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the AAA to make data-driven decisions regarding the reform.
To achieve these goals, we are working with our champions in Congress to reintroduce a version of the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act (HR 745, S. 332 – 114th Congress). We hope to have a bill reintroduced in the House and Senate in the coming weeks. Only with your help in sustained outreach to your legislators will we be able to get the provisions of this bill passed.
Our absolute top priority this year is preventing the expiration of the Medicare add-on payments. Building the increases into the base rates is also vital to the future of reform, as is provider standing and cost data collection. These changes will lead, we hope, to the demonstration of the need for additional reimbursement as well as recognition of the role ambulance services can play in the larger healthcare picture. The subsequent goal is coverage for services such as mobile integrated health and alternate destinations.
The AAA will also be closely following the debate and implications for our industry around repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, potential Medicare and Medicaid reform, and other healthcare and broader initiatives of interest to us. We will keep you posted of new developments as the process unfolds.
Since this is such a vital year for us in Congress, I ask that each of you respond to our Calls to Action for help with your members of Congress on the Medicare increases and other legislative priorities. We will only be successful if we all push as one.
Mark Postma is President of the American Ambulance Association.