WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced legislation to reimburse ambulance providers for services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries during the coronavirus pandemic.
Because of high demand for hospital beds, many ambulance providers have been directed to care for patients in settings other than emergency rooms—whether at patients’ homes or in other health care facilities. Unfortunately, Medicare does not pay ambulance providers when a beneficiary is treated on-location. Cassidy’s bipartisan legislation would give the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services the authority to reimburse ambulance providers for care delivered to beneficiaries even when the patient isn’t moved, providing vital funding to ground ambulance organizations.
“If a patient cannot be taken to a hospital because it is full, an EMT can treat the patient at their home. EMTs have been heroes during the pandemic,’ said Dr. Cassidy. “They should be paid for the care they give to Medicare patients who need help right away.”
“Nevada’s ambulance organizations are going above and beyond to keep low-risk patients out of the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Instead of being rewarded for this innovative, lifesaving work, they’re being penalized by an outdated payment system. I’m proud to introduce legislation that would ensure that ambulance providers are properly paid for all services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries, regardless of whether those patients are transported to the hospital or other health care facility.”
This treatment-in-place legislation would provide the HHS Secretary with authority reimburse ambulance providers for services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries for the duration of the public health emergency, even when patients aren’t transported to a health care facility. The Secretary would be permitted to waive requirements to allow Medicare payment for ground ambulance services in response to a 911 call in cases in which a beneficiary would have been transported to a destination permitted under Medicare regulations, but such transport did not occur as a result of community-wide emergency medical service (EMS) protocols due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.