Congress Extends Medicare Reimbursement Rates for Ambulance Transport Until 2018

On April 16, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2/Public Law 114-10) was enacted, extending the current reimbursement rates that EMS providers receive for transporting patients in ambulances until January 1, 2018. The existing rates were set to expire, which would have automatically reduced Medicare reimbursement for ambulance transport services. Section 203 of the bill extends the regular ground ambulance rates and the super rural ground ambulance rates. 
“I’d like to thank Congress and the President for extending Medicare reimbursement rates for ambulance transport,” said NVFC Chairman Kevin D. Quinn. “At the same time, it is important to recognize that the work isn’t finished. These rates are set to expire again in less than three years, which makes planning difficult and creates unnecessary risk for the entire EMS system. The NVFC will continue to work with Congress to pass the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act of 2015 to establish permanent Medicare reimbursement rates.”
The Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 745/S. 377) was introduced in the House by Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) and in the Senate by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). Follow this link to the NVFC’s Action Center and select “Make Medicare Reimbursement Rate for Ambulance Transport Permanent” to send a customizable pre-drafted message to your Representative and Senators asking them to co-sponsor H.R. 745/S. 377.
In addition to extending the reimbursement rates, Section 515 of H.R. 2 expands testing of a model for prior authorization for repetitive scheduled non-emergency ambulance transport. The goal is to reduce reimbursement costs by eliminating unnecessary transports. In the event that the testing is successful, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is directed under the legislation to expand it out to every state. This should not affect emergency medical service providers unless they provide non-emergency ambulance transport services.