LaHood, Sewell Introduce Ambulance Service Bill to Assist Rural Communities
Washington D.C. – Representatives Darin LaHood (IL-18) and Terri Sewell (AL-07) introduced H.R. 3021 to ensure patients in rural communities continue to have access to affordable ambulance services. This legislation will restructure current cuts to Medicare reimbursements that impact ambulance services in rural and super-rural areas.
“Emergency ambulance services in rural areas are essential for patients and it’s vital we continue to support them. Yet, recent reductions in Medicare payments threaten to hinder access to ambulance services in rural communities across the country,” stated Rep. LaHood. “These changes to Medicare reimbursements will negatively impact providers’ ability to offer around-the-clock services in central and west-central Illinois. Our bill will correct these changes to better reflect the realities rural emergency service providers face, while continuing to assist the emergent and non-emergent ambulance needs of all Medicare patients across the 18th District. I am pleased to join with Congresswoman Sewell in this effort and look forward to working with her and my colleagues to pass this critical legislation.”
“No matter where Alabamians live, it’s essential that they have access to lifesaving emergency ambulance services,” Rep. Sewell said. “This legislation will help the network of ambulance providers continue to provide critical care by preventing Medicare cuts to ambulance reimbursements and help protect patients by cracking down on deceptive providers that take advantage of fragile dialysis patients and drain Medicare of funds for unnecessary ambulance transports.”
“The American Ambulance Association is grateful for the support of Representatives LaHood and Sewell in their introduction of the Non-Emergency Ambulance Transportation Sustainability and Accountability Act of 2019. This important legislation will shift cuts in Medicare reimbursement to ambulance service agencies in which 50% or more of their volume are repetitive BLS non-emergency transports to and from dialysis centers. This change will lessen reductions in reimbursement for vital emergency and non-emergency ambulance services which are already reimbursed below the cost of service.” Aarron Reinert, President of American Ambulance Association.
A Senate companion bill has been introduced by Senators Doug Jones (D-AL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
Under current law, ground ambulance suppliers and providers 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.