Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced bipartisan legislation that would ensure that all communities, including rural and underserved areas, have access to quality emergency health care. The Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act would make sure that ambulance providers are adequately reimbursed by Medicare for the cost of providing services. The bill would protect ambulance and EMT services across the country and particularly in rural areas where they are desperately needed.
“Whether an automobile accident, a fire, a health crisis, or another catastrophe, paramedics are there in those first critical minutes when courage, skill, and compassion are most needed,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would support these first responders, especially those in rural and underserved communities, by ensuring they are adequately reimbursed by Medicare for their services. As a senator representing one of the most rural states in the country, I will continue to support the brave men and women who work around the clock to protect our communities.”
“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, ambulance service providers and suppliers across the country are reimbursed by Medicare at rates below the cost of providing services, necessitating 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 has inaccurately captured 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.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).