Advocacy moves national EMS agenda forward in 2010
With the recent turnover in both houses of Congress, our advocacy work in 2011 will focus on educating and re-educating national leaders and staff on the challenges faced by EMS professionals
By Patrick Moore
Hosted by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT), last year's first annual EMS on the Hill Day included representation from all sectors of the EMS community, with 120 EMS professionals from more than 40 states advocating to over 160 U.S. Senators and House Representatives.
With the recent turnover in both houses of Congress, our advocacy work in 2011 will focus on educating and re-educating national leaders and staff on the challenges faced by EMS professionals and services across the country. NAEMT is focusing on the following legislative priorities:
The Medicare Ambulance Access Preservation Act of 2009 (S. 1066, H.R. 2443) — This would provide permanent Medicare reimbursement relief for ambulance services — consistent with the 1997 GAO report stating that they are paid significantly below cost — with a permanent 6 percent increase for ambulance transports originating in urban or rural areas, and a bonus payment for transports originating in super rural areas.
The Dale Long Emergency Medical Service Providers Protection Act (S. 1353) and the Nongovernmental Emergency Responder Family Protection Act (H.R. 2485) — Both bills would extend the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) program — which currently only applies to those employed by a federal, state or local government entity — to EMS professionals employed by private, non-profit EMS agencies.
The Broadband for First Responders Act of 2010 (H.R. 5081) — This would enhance public safety by making more spectrum available to public safety agencies, facilitating the development of a wireless public safety broadband network, and providing standards for the spectrum needs of public safety agencies.
The Strengthening Community Service Act of 2010 – This would establish a grant program to reimburse public safety agencies for additional expenses incurred when a police officer, firefighter, paramedic or EMT who is in the National Guard or Reserves is deployed for active military duty.
It's important that national leaders understand what EMTs and paramedics do, and the challenges they face. And it's important for EMS practitioners to build relationships with elected officials so they can serve as a trusted, credible resource to them on EMS issues. "Advocating for EMS in Washington, D.C., is essential to ensuring our Congressional leaders and their staff understand the key issues that affect the ability of EMS services to effectively serve their communities," says Connie Meyer, NAEMT President-Elect.
Everyone in EMS can get involved in EMS advocacy by attending EMS on the Hill Day and advocating in person to Congressional representatives, visiting with staff at their representatives' district offices, and reaching out to representatives on specific issues through the Capwiz service, accessible through the NAEMT web site.
We invite all EMS practitioners to attend EMS on the Hill Day 2011, held May 3-4. Registration is open through March 31, 2011. To register, and to learn more about the NAEMT Advocacy program, please visit the NAEMT website.