5 things a lame-duck Trump presidency can do for EMS

President Trump and Congress have 7 weeks to support bipartisan opportunities to improve EMS safety, reimbursement, recognition and pay

Even though President Trump’s days in office are numbered, there are several actions he can take as a lame duck to support EMS. Here are five suggestions for the Trump administration and Congress to consider. 

1. Authorize PPE production with Defense Production Act 

Nov. 11 is the seven-month anniversary of President Trump declaring the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency, but we are still hearing reports of EMTs and paramedics not having adequate PPE, especially respiratory protection. The ESO COVID-19 Data Dashboard shows that N-95 re-use has remained at a similar level since April. COVID-19 – not ambulance collisions, explosions, fires or firearms – is the top 2020 killer of EMTs, paramedics, cops and firefighters.  

From signing the EMS Counts Act into law, to transitioning ET3 to the Biden administration and securing PPE and reimbursement; 5 things President Trump can do for EMS before he leaves the White House
From signing the EMS Counts Act into law, to transitioning ET3 to the Biden administration and securing PPE and reimbursement; 5 things President Trump can do for EMS before he leaves the White House (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

PPE, along with improved social distancing on- and off-duty, is the best way to protect EMTs and paramedics, as well as firefighters, police officers and corrections officers from exposure to COVID-19.  

President Trump, invoke the Defense Production Act to order the immediate production of N-95 respiratory protection masks and other PPE to ensure every EMS provider is adequately protected from COVID-19 exposure on every patient response.  

2. Direct CMS to prepare for ET3 hand-off to Biden administration 

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, was appointed to the position by President Trump. In the weeks ahead, her department, critical for the funding of healthcare for tens of millions of Americans, will be preparing to transition leadership and knowledge to Biden administration appointees. 

The launch of the Emergency Triage, Transport and Treatment program was one of the most significant healthcare innovations of the Trump administration. The ET3 payment makes Medicare reimbursement available for certain non-transport ambulance services and ambulance transports to alternate destinations. Continuation of ET3, as well as improvements based on the widespread adoption of telemedicine and treatment in place, is critical to the financial future of EMS.  

President Trump, direct CMS to ensure a smooth transition of the ET3 program to the Biden administration, ensuring continuity of this important innovation for EMS financial sustainability.   

3. Call on Congress to pass the EMS Counts Act 

The lame-duck Congress will spend several weeks in session between now and Inauguration Day. None of us expect major legislative accomplishments during this period, but there are non-controversial, bipartisan opportunities. For example, the EMS Counts Act was introduced last month and is bipartisan legislation that has been endorsed by the major EMS and fire national organizations.  

The aim of the EMS Counts Act is to collect accurate and comprehensive data on the quantity, location and training of EMS providers throughout the United States in order to ensure communities can efficiently respond to emergencies, such as disease outbreaks and natural disasters. The bill also fixes a flaw in the Department of Labor's occupational classification system that does not recognize EMS personnel who serve in dual roles, such as firefighter-EMTs. 

President Trump, promise to sign the EMS Counts Act into law to show your support for EMS providers and firefighters, many of whom supported your re-election bid.  

4. Support the construction of the National EMS Memorial 

President Trump signed H.R. 1037 into law two years ago, becoming public law 115-275: “An act to authorize the National Emergency Medical Services Memorial Foundation to establish a commemorative work in the District of Columbia and its environs, and for other purposes.” Work is underway to secure a piece of federal land to build the National EMS Memorial.  

President Trump, please make a donation to the National EMS Memorial and use your social media channels to ask all Americans to make a contribution to building a memorial that recognizes EMTs and paramedics who died while serving their communities. 

5. Advocate for a living wage for EMS 

Salary and benefits for EMTs and paramedics lags behind the pay for firefighters and police officers. The most striking imbalance is in New York City, President Trump’s hometown, where EMS providers in the city make about $35,000 less than firefighters and police officers after five-and-a-half years of service. In Florida, the president’s more recent official state of residence, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to increase the state’s minimum wage from $9 per hour to $15 per hour by 2026.  

Low pay for EMS, as discussed in the annual EMS Trend Report, is an enduring problem that puts considerable strain on the nation’s frontline healthcare workers. Though the executive branch can’t solve local pay imbalances, the president can draw attention to the need for increasing EMS pay through Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and increasing local funding. Pay increases for frontline, entry-level employment has bipartisan support.  

President Trump, use your platform to support increased pay for EMS through changes in reimbursement and local funding.  

What are your requests for EMS during the final weeks of the Trump presidency? Share in the comments or send an email to editor@ems1.com.  

Read more: Donkeys, elephants and lame ducks: Developing our political EMS response planLeading the charge to combat COVID-19, promote telehealth and advance the EMS agenda, while prioritizing patients and staff.

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