Recently, the American Ambulance Association contacted members of the fire and emergency service in support of the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act of 2017 (S. 967). The IAFC and IAFF have serious concerns with this legislation as it is written and we urge our members not to support it.
S. 967 was drafted to propose changes in federal reimbursement for the cost of providing pre-hospital emergency care to Medicare beneficiaries. The legislation has a section that would benefit the fire and emergency service by permanently reauthorizing the Medicare Ambulance Extender Payments. However, our organizations are troubled by other provisions in the bill.
While we sincerely appreciate the dedication that several members of the U.S. Senate have shown to improving the reimbursements available to fire departments. However, S. 967 does not provide the comprehensive reform which is needed to improve Medicare and Medicaid payment rates for EMS care. Additionally, our organizations are concerned that the cost reporting mechanism described in S. 967 will not account accurately for the true costs of providing pre-hospital emergency medical care. Our organizations are concerned that the data fields specified in the bill do not account for the unreimbursed costs of care that fire departments provide when a patient is ultimately transported by another organization or company.
At the present time, we encourage our members not to support S. 967 as it is currently written. The IAFC and IAFF look forward to working with our partners on Capitol Hill to achieve the comprehensive EMS reimbursement reform which fire departments across the United States so desperately need.