Air Medical Medicare Bill Introduced on Capitol Hill

Air Medical Medicare Bill Introduced on Capitol Hill 16 Feb, 15, Source: AAMS

AAMS is very pleased to announce Representatives Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY), the co-chairs of the Congressional Air Medical Caucus, along with Todd Young (R-IN) and Bill Johnson (R-OH), formally introduced legislation in the House of Representatives this morning to utilize a common-sense, data-driven approach to update the Air Ambulance Medicare Fee Schedule to better account for modern day costs.

This legislation continues AAMS’ longstanding advocacy for improvements to the Medicare system where inflationary updates have severely lagged behind increasing operational costs. It was developed through extensive collaboration with the caucus co-chairs, committees of jurisdiction, and other key congressional leaders.

The highlights of the bill include:

Cost Reporting Requirements

The legislation would require the Department of Health and Human Services to create and implement a system for air medical Medicare providers to report their cost on specific cost drivers. Those cost drivers, which represent the basic operational costs at an average air medical base, are as follows:

Maintenance
Medical Supplies
Fuel
Employee Expenses
Recurring Training (aviation, maintenance, communication, and clinical)
Rent & Utilities
Communications
Travel
Insurance
Marketing
Supplies
Overhead Support
Aircraft Ownership Expense
Safety Enhancement Capital Costs
Safety Enhancement Recurring Costs
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would be tasked with analyzing the cost data and issuing a report to Congress to help inform future rate adjustments.

Annual Report on Industry-Submitted Safety and Quality Measures

Additionally, the Secretary of HHS and the GAO will issue a report, updated annually, on certain industry clinical quality measures taken from the Air Medical Physicians Association 2013 “Must Have” Consensus Metrics.

Temporary Payment Adjustment

In order to provide a certain amount of immediate financial relief, the legislation would provide for a 20 percent increase in the air medical transport base rate the first year after enactment and subsequent adjustments of 5 percent for three subsequent years when Congress will receive the GAO data study.

This legislation is a simple, data-driven approach that will help every air medical provider, conducting Medicare transports, to continue to provide safe, high-quality patient care by stabilizing the financial viability of Medicare transports. The legislation will preserve access to the critical life-saving services that tens of millions of Americans rely upon for definitive healthcare.

AAMS thanks Representatives Sessions, Meeks, Young and Johnson for their support of our community. We will now work to educate members of Congress on the legislation and seek additional co-sponsors. Tomorrow, over 40 AAMS’ members will head to Capitol Hill to rally support for this essential legislation. We encourage all of our members to contact their federal Representatives and Senators to ask for their support of the Sessions-Meeks-Young-Johnson Air Medical Medicare Reimbursement Bill.

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