WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and a group of four bipartisan senators today introduced legislation to ensure rural and underserved communities have access to quality emergency health care. The Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act ensures ambulance providers are adequately reimbursed by Medicare for the cost of providing services, protecting ambulance and EMT services across the country and particularly in rural areas.
“Emergency access to health care should not be limited for rural communities. This bill gives families in rural areas peace of mind,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“Ambulances provide lifesaving care for Nevadans every day, but if Congress doesn’t act, many providers in our rural communities could face major cuts in funding that would dramatically alter services available to rural Americans,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Without reimbursements that actually cover the costs of ambulance services, lifesaving care in rural counties could become extremely expensive or unavailable. My bipartisan legislation would provide financial certainty for these first responders until Congress has the data to permanently address ambulance payments and ensure that Nevadans in every corner of our state can access the emergency health care services they need.”
Currently, Medicare reimburses ambulance service providers and suppliers across the country at rates below the cost of providing services. This requires add-on payments for urban, rural, and super-rural ambulances. Congress has extended current add-on payments through December 31, 2022. The Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act would extend those rates for an additional five years. Additionally, the bill would protect ambulances from reimbursement changes tied to census data that misrepresents the need for services in rural regions.
The Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act is supported by the American Ambulance Association, the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the International Association of Firefighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Association of EMTs, the National Rural Health Association, and the National Volunteer Fire Council.
Cassidy and Cortez Masto introduced the Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).