The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) fully supports bi-partisan legislation, H.R. 3378: Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act, introduced yesterday by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Rep. Suzan Delbene (D-WA), Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), and Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA). AAMS applauds Rep. Walorski, Rep. DelBene, Rep. Ruiz, and Rep. Johnson for their efforts to understand the significant challenges that face air medical providers across the country and actively work towards a solution. AAMS also praises the continued efforts of Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), a longtime champion of the need for Medicare payment reform in air medical transport.
This legislation will ensure:
- Transparency: Cost and quality reporting measures will provide transparency to the public on the high cost of providing air medical transport, especially in rural areas.
- Efficiency: Increased transparency on costs and quality will drive a more efficient system, rewarding those who can perform higher quality services at a lower cost.
- Quality: Value based purchasing program rewards high performing air medical transport services and incentivizes increased quality in healthcare transportation across the air medical community.
- Access: Most importantly, the bill helps ensure that the largest single payer of air medical transports – Medicare – funds those transports at or near the cost of that service. This provides for the stability of existing services and the access they provide to healthcare.
The air medical industry dramatically improves access to Level 1 and 2 trauma centers for 85 million Americans (27% of the population) who would not be able to receive emergent care in a timely manner otherwise. The majority of air medical transports treat patients suffering traumatic injury, cardiac event, or stroke – conditions that must be treated rapidly and at advanced medical facilities. Aircraft and highly-trained air medical personnel stand ready to respond when requested for a mission 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if no emergent transports are dispatched, and air medical providers respond regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.
“The air medical industry is facing an unsustainable future. Operating costs are rising, the population is aging, and hospitals are closing, especially in rural areas. The demand for emergency air medical services continues to rise, yet 70% of our current transports are unpaid or underpaid,” said Rick Sherlock, AAMS President and CEO. “Without long-overdue and significant reform to the Medicare reimbursement rate afforded by H.R. 3378, millions of Americans stand to lose emergency air medical services, often the only access to definitive health treatments and diagnosis.”
Current Medicare rates were never based on the cost of providing the service. H.R. 3378 will bring an immediate resolution to the current Medicare payment gap, helping to preserve air medical services for the millions of Americans who depend on these services for access to definitive care.
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