‘Get involved, make a difference, do it now’
EMS on the Hill has concluded but the lobbying must continue
We recently marked the end of another successful EMS on the Hill day, in which over 200 representatives of the EMS profession descended on Capitol Hill for meetings and discussions with their congressional representatives and senators.
All delegates reported that their meetings with either their elected officials or staffers were very successful with a notable increase in EMS brand recognition, mainly due to our activities over the last few years in the pandemic. NAEMT’s messages and proposed legislative changes were clear and were well delivered by all. NAEMT’s President Susan Bailey reported that “the day had been great, with meetings and everybody has been busy being positive, the visits have been positive and (our elected officials) are hearing a message for EMS, I really felt like they were listening, I think that they’re hearing more now than they were hearing in the past.”
This first live EMS on the Hill in three years also marks the presence of considerable collaboration and partnerships from other major national associations. Leaders of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the American Ambulance Association (AAA) were also on deck to show support for NAEMT and continue to pursue a joint agenda to further the lot of EMS as a profession.
Evan Davis, government affairs director for IAFF, thanked the assembled delegates for making the trip to Washington, D.C., and noted, “your outreach and presence on the hill really makes an incredible impact on bringing these issues alive to Congress.” American Ambulance Association Randy Strozyk noted, “It’s another example of where the AAA, NAEMT, IAFF and IAFC leadership has gotten together and we’re trying to work on things as a community to share ideas and share opportunities; so to be here with the other 250 members at NAEMT on the hill is just a chance for all of us to get our message up here.”
Ensure we are here tomorrow
However, we should not think this is a one and done. Everybody these days is a politician. We drive an ambulance that is in effect a billboard for our brand. Everybody sees what we do and when we do it, and this is a positive thing. However, as we know, recruiting, retention, pay and conditions are a considerable and constant challenge right now. To change some or possibly all of that, we need everybody to get involved in politics at the local, state and federal level.
The message is clear, join your local or state ambulance associations or groups, join a national association, such as NAEMT or the American Ambulance Association or, if you are a fire-based EMS provider, the IAFF or IAFC. The key message, however, is get involved, make a difference, do it now. In the words of AAA’s Randy Strozyk, “don’t forget in March 2020, EMS was a critical part of saving America and we lost lives because of that, but we are still here today. But, we are going to need to make progress so we can be here tomorrow.”
EMS ON THE HILL DAY REQUESTS TO CONGRESS
Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2023
Please support H.R. 1666, the Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2023, sponsored by Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Representative Terry Sewell (D-AL).
This legislation would extend temporary additional reimbursement for ground ambulance services until the Medicare ambulance fee schedule is reformed. Without the extension of these ground ambulance “add-ons,” many ambulance service organizations will not be able to continue serving their communities.
FY24 Funding for SIREN and S. 265, the SIREN Reauthorization Act
The SIREN Act was signed into law on December 20, 2018. This law created a grant program for public and non-profit EMS agencies and fire departments in rural areas to support the recruitment, retention, education and equipping of EMS personnel. Rural EMS agencies and fire departments often lack the resources to pay for even basic operational needs, and this program is aimed at helping meet some of those needs.
Please ask your lawmakers in the Senate and House to share their support with the Senate and House Appropriations Committees to fund SIREN Act grants at $20 million for FY2024 to provide much needed resources to already strained EMS agencies working to provide life-saving medical care to the patients in their communities. The current 5-year authorization for SIREN ends September 2023. In response, Senator Dick Durbin (DIL) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced S. 265, the SIREN Reauthorization Act that would reauthorize the SIREN Act grants for another five years (2024-2028). Please also ask your lawmakers to support this reauthorization.
Reimburse EMS for treatment in place and transport to alternate destination
Please pass legislation to reimburse ambulance services for patient “Treatment in Place” (TIP) and “Transport to Alternate Destinations” (TAD). Under the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration, CMS authorized waivers that allowed EMS agencies to be reimbursed for caring for patients in their homes in lieu of transport and transporting patients to alternate destinations for care. These waivers will expire at the end of the PHE on May 11, 2023.
An invitation to join the EMS Caucus
The EMS Caucus educates and promotes the important functions of emergency medical services and works to improve EMS practitioners’ ability to provide life-saving medical care in emergencies, cost-saving care management in non-emergent situations, and disaster and tactical response at any time.
EMS practitioners provide immediate medical care – many times, life-saving care – to prehospital patients suffering from trauma, stroke and cardiac arrest. EMS practitioners, in conjunction with physician oversight, are specially trained to assess patient needs and navigate patients to the right care, in the right place, and at the right time. All communities, whether urban, suburban or rural, deserve access to the high-quality out of hospital medical care EMS provides.
In addition, EMS is a critical element within our nation’s disaster and mass casualty response infrastructure. EMS responds to bombings, active shooters, biologic threats and natural disasters, such earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. EMS is also critical to our ability to respond to public health crises.
The EMS Caucus brings a disciplined focus on these issues and will form a cohesive bipartisan effort to support EMS practitioners nationwide. The EMS Caucus helps promote, educate and increase awareness around the federal policy issues impacting EMS.