The American Ambulance Association (AAA) Stars of Life event, which began yesterday and runs through tomorrow at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., is an important annual event that recognizes remarkable EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, educators, fleet technicians and others awarded with AAA’s Stars of Life awards, but it’s also an important week for our industry to increase its visibility with key members of both houses of the U.S. Congress.
The 108 awardees identified as this year’s Stars of Life represent excellence in EMS across the country, and starting today and through tomorrow, they join their executive hosts from agencies around the country to spread the word about their achievements during short Hill Meetings with their U.S. senators and congressional representatives. In an impressive display of coordination by AAA’s government affairs staff, more than 150 Hill Meetings are being held over the two-day period.
R. Buesking and Darick Day (Madison County Ambulance District) and Renee McClure, Kent Coleman and David Tetrault (St. Francois County Ambulance District) met with U.S. Representative Jason Smith of Missouri.
Although celebrating the contributions of Stars of Life awardees is the primary topic of conversation during Hill Meetings, AAA’s government affairs staff arms awardees and their executive hosts with key talking points to help rally support from congressional members around key legislative priorities for our industry.
This year, the primary legislative push is to enlist support for extending the Medicare ambulance add-on payments in order to ensure they don’t expire at the end of the year. The add-on payments are critical for our industry to continue to provide high-quality EMS and medical transport, hire new staff, update equipment, gain access to lifesaving medications and keep response times low. Rural areas are especially vulnerable, as they face a higher Medicare population, lower population density and long transport times.
The Stars of Life Hill Meetings are key to pushing this legislation forward, but AAA also encourages everyone to get involved, and they ask that everyone reach out to your members of Congress to support the legislation.