WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced H.R. 6269 today to ensure patients in rural communities continue to have access to affordable ambulance transportation.  Specifically, this legislation restructures upcoming cuts to Medicare reimbursements for ground ambulance services that will impact suppliers and providers in rural and super-rural areas. Correcting a change made in the recent Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the Non-Emergency Ambulance Transportation Sustainability and Accountability (NEATSA) Act would restructure a Medicare offset to more fairly distribute reimbursements to ambulance suppliers.

Under current law, ground ambulance suppliers and providers will face a steep 23% cut in reimbursement for all non-emergency end-stage renal disease (ESRD) ambulance transports of Medicare beneficiaries. This legislation would restructure the payment reductions to reflect the proportion of pre-scheduled, non-emergency ESRD transports a company makes. This change will allow these service providers to pay an appropriate percentage of the offset costs while ensuring providers, who are responsible for additional emergency services, and other non-emergency transport services, are able to continue providing critical access to ambulance transportation for Medicare beneficiaries.

“It is vital that we support emergency services providers in our rural areas, yet upcoming modifications to Medicare payments threaten to unfairly impact 24-7 emergency ambulance services in rural America. These changes will disrupt providers’ ability to plan and offer comprehensive services around the clock to rural patients, like many of my constituents throughout Central & West Central IL,” said Rep. LaHood. “Our bill would correct this by reforming the program to reflect the reality of the work these providers do in our communities, while continuing to assist all ambulance services to assure they meet the needs of Medicare patients in the 18th District. I want to thank my colleague Congresswoman Sewell for co-authoring this bi-partisan legislation with me, as well as the stakeholders throughout the 18th District, and I look forward to working together to get this vital legislation passed.”

“Today’s bill ensures that good actors in the ambulance industry don’t have to pay for the crimes of bad actors,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “When emergency strikes, our communities depend on a network of reliable ambulance providers, and today’s bill supports that network by preventing Medicare cuts to ambulance reimbursement. In order to strengthen Medicare, our bill also cracks down on fraud within the ambulance industry, weeding out deceptive providers who take advantage of fragile dialysis patients and drain Medicare of funds with unnecessary ambulance transports. Today’s legislation finds a commonsense solution to the challenge of providing all Americans with access to emergency transportation which Members on both sides of the aisle can support.”

Bill text can be found HERE. The legislation is anticipated to have a bi-partisan Senate companion introduced in the coming weeks.

What others are saying:
“We appreciate [Rep. LaHood’s] support and introduction of The Non-Emergency Ambulance Transportation Sustainability and Accountability (NEATSA) Act,” said Illinois State Ambulance Association (ISAA). “By modifying this offset to achieve a greater reduction in Medicare payment for ambulance service providers engaged in scheduled, repetitive transports, our members who perform predominately 911, emergency and unscheduled nonemergency ambulance transports will be able to continue to provide such services without another significant cut in Medicare reimbursement.” You can read ISAA’s full statement HERE.

“As a private, not-for-profit organization operated for community benefit and governed by a Board of Directors, we are conscious of initiatives which will assist us in our mission, ‘To deliver consistently outstanding, value-based health and community care,’“ said 18th District-based Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) of Central Illinois. “The Non-Emergency Ambulance Transportation Sustainability and Accountability (NEATSA) Act is an initiative which our dedicated staff fully supports in order for us to continue to meet our mission.” You can read AMT’s full statement HERE.

“As the largest private ambulance provider in Illinois, we support the revised targeted offset proposed in [Rep. LaHood’s] legislation which includes a larger rate reduction for providers who provide higher volume of scheduled, repetitive, ESRD transports,” said Elmhurst-based Superior Ambulance Service. “The cost to perform these types of transports is lower due to their prescheduled nature during the hours of 8-6; therefore, this revised offset is warranted.” You can read Superior Ambulance Service’s full statement HERE.

The American Ambulance Association also added, “We support your efforts to restructure using a budget neutral formula in reimbursement for nonemergency BLS ambulance transports to and from dialysis centers in a way in which a majority of the cut applies to those entities which do predominately repetitive scheduled transports.” The American Ambulance Association’s full statement can be read HERE.