Las Vegas, Nev. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released the following statement after the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it would be implementing her bipartisan legislation to ensure ambulance providers and first responders are still paid for treating Medicare patients who are not transported to emergency rooms or similar destinations. Previously, ambulances were put in the difficult position of only receiving payment if they transported patients to facilities like hospitals, which have been had significantly less capacity to handle additional patients throughout the pandemic. In January, Cortez Masto introduced bipartisan legislation to fix this problem that would allow first responders to get paid for treating patients at their homes and other health care facilities. The Senator worked to include her provision in the American Rescue Plan.
“During a pandemic when we have had overcrowded hospitals focused on treating COVID patients, it made no sense to penalize ambulance companies and first responders for providing life-saving treatment outside of emergency rooms. I worked across the aisle to push this legislation to make sure our first responders would get paid when they’re able to help low-risk patients at home or outside of the hospital, and I am so pleased to see the Biden Administration implementing it today. Our first responders have been on the front lines of this pandemic since day one, and this measure will provide immediate relief to our health care workers and ambulance companies while making sure they are properly paid for their efforts going forward.”
Cortez Masto’s bipartisan legislation ensures that ambulance organizations and first responders working to keep low-risk Medicare patients out of the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic are properly paid for their efforts. Her provision in the American Rescue Plan provided the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the authority to 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. Today, CMS announced that the Secretary is allowing Medicare payment for ground ambulance services 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.