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Senate Passes 33-Month Medicare Ambulance Relief Extension

April 15, 2015
AAA Member Alert
TO:          AAA Membership
Mike Hall, AAA President
RE:          Senate Passes 33-Month Medicare Ambulance Relief Extension

I am extremely happy to report that last night the Senate passed H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, by a vote of 92-8. In addition to repealing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for physician payments, H.R. 2 includes a 33-month extension of the Medicare ambulance add-on payments. The passage of this bill extends Medicare ambulance relief until December 31, 2017 and provides $400 million in desperately needed relief for our industry.

Senate consideration of H.R. 2 could not have been more perfect as it coincided with the AAA Stars of Life event occurring right now in Washington, DC. Stars of Life and their hosts have been meeting over the past couple of days with their members of Congress in recognition of the Stars and to push for Medicare ambulance relief. The Senate vote on final passage occurred at the same time as the banquet to honor the Stars and present Congressman Greg Walden with his 2015 AAA Legislator of the Year Award.

The Senate passed H.R. 2 before the midnight deadline of the expiration of the 14-day hold on claims by Medicare contractors. So contractors will process held claims and future claims for services after March 31 at rates which include the 2% urban, 3% rural and super rural bonus.

In addition to Medicare ambulance relief, the package also includes language from the Protecting Integrity of Medicare Act (H.R. 1021) expanding the current prior authorization pilot programs on repetitive BLS non-emergency ambulance transports in South Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Starting in January 2016, the bill would expand the programs to Delaware, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia. The program would then expand nationwide starting in January 2017.

The AAA and our champions on Capitol Hill pushed very hard to ensure that H.R. 2 included the 33-month extension of Medicare ambulance relief. While this is a great victory for the AAA and our members, we are not resting in our effort to make the ambulance relief permanent through passage of the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act (S. 377, H.R. 745). I encourage every member of the AAA to continue to reach out to your elected officials and ask them to cosponsor and support S. 377 and H.R. 745.   To write to your members of Congress, please click here.

I want to thank Congressmen Greg Walden, Peter Welch, Devin Nunes and Richard Neal and Senators Charles Schumer, Pat Roberts, Patrick Leahy and Susan Collins for championing to extend and make permanent Medicare ambulance relief. I also thank each of you for your time and commitment to this cause.  Your efforts did not go unnoticed and you contributed heavily to this victory.

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