Bills adding payments for ambulance services appear on Capitol Hill
Preserving Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act is introduced in the Senate and House
By Bill Carey
WASHINGTON — On May 18, 2023, Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) introduced the Preserving Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act of 2023. The legislation would extend the temporary Medicare ambulance add-on payments for an additional three years.
The Senate has proposed an amplified version of the bill, aiming to enhance add-on payment levels across different regions. Under this version, the add-on payment for urban areas would increase from 2% to 3.4%, while for rural areas it would rise from 3% to 4.3%. Additionally, the add-on payment for super rural areas would experience a significant boost, increasing from 22.6% to 26.2%.
The add-on payment program was previously set to expire on December 31, 2022. However, thanks to the diligent efforts of advocates on Capitol Hill, a two-year extension has been secured, effectively prolonging the program until December 31, 2024. This extension provides valuable continuity and stability for healthcare providers and ensures the continued support and resources necessary to deliver quality care to underserved communities.
“We thank Senators Cortez Masto, Collins, Stabenow, and Cassidy for introducing the Preserving Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act and for their strong support for ground ambulance services and the communities and patients we serve,” AAA President Randy Strozyk said in an AAA release. “The disparity between Medicare reimbursement and the costs of providing services has grown significantly through reductions in reimbursement and skyrocketing expenses for labor, ambulances, and equipment. This bill would help reduce that gap and maintain access to vital ground ambulance services for communities around the country.”
Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced the House version (H.R. 1666) of the bill on March 17. The House bill would be a three-year extension of the add-on payments at their present levels.
The AAA stated that the significant progress achieved so far can be attributed to the unwavering dedication and relentless advocacy efforts of AAA volunteer leaders, staff and consultants, all made possible by the continued support of valued members. The organization stressed this success relies heavily on the collective engagement of AAA members, and it is crucial that they proactively reach out to their Senators and Representatives to encourage their co-sponsorship of the respective versions of the Preserving Access to Ground Ambulance Services Act of 2023.