Lawmakers introduce bill to reimburse treatment in place during pandemic

The bill aims to reimburse ambulance providers who can’t transport some patients due to lack of available hospital beds


By Laura French

WASHINGTON — Two senators have introduced a bill in Congress that would reimburse ambulance providers that treat patients in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.), MD, and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) are sponsoring the bill that would authorize Medicare payments to ambulance providers when a patient is treated but not transported due to COVID-19-related restrictions, according to a press release from Cassidy's office. The proposed bill comes after some ambulance services have restricted patient transports due to overstretched hospitals and lack of available beds amidst the pandemic. 

Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would allow ambulance providers to be reimbursed for treatment in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would allow ambulance providers to be reimbursed for treatment in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo/U.S. Senate)

"If a patient cannot be taken to a hospital because it is full, an EMT can treat the patient at their home," said Cassidy, in a statement. "EMTs have been heroes during the pandemic. They should be paid for the care they give to Medicare patients who need help right away."

If passed, the bill would allow the Department of Health and Human Services secretary and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to waive certain requirements and reimburse for treatment in place of Medicare beneficiaries for the duration of the public health emergency. 

"Nevada's ambulance organizations are going above and beyond to keep low-risk patients out of the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic," said Cortez Masto, in a statement. "Instead of being rewarded for this innovative, lifesaving work, they're being penalized by an outdated payment system. I'm proud to introduce legislation that would ensure that ambulance providers are properly paid for all services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries, regardless of whether those patients are transported to the hospital or other health care facility." 

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