In the News: Ripon Advance: Walorski bill would ensure air medical service availability, quality in rural areas

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Walorski bill would ensure air medical service availability, quality in rural areas

Medicare reimbursement rates for air medical service providers would be updated to ensure rural areas have continued access to critical emergency services under bipartisan legislation that U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) recently introduced.

Currently, ground and air ambulance service providers are among the only providers that do not report cost data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and air ambulance reimbursement rates are far below the costs of providing the services.

To address the issue and ensure continued air ambulance service coverage, the Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act, H.R. 3378, would require providers to begin reporting cost data in 2019. Rates would be periodically increased through 2021, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would then determine reimbursement rates based on the two years of available cost data.

“In critical medical emergencies, the difference between life and death is often a matter of minutes, which is why air ambulance services save lives,” Walorski said. “Unfortunately, outdated Medicare reimbursement rates that don’t fully address the costs of air medical transport put these services at risk. This bipartisan bill ensures Hoosiers, especially those in rural areas, continue to have access to the air ambulances they depend on for emergency medical care.”

Read the full story here.

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