Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced the bipartisan Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act, which would ensure that all communities, particularly those in rural and underserved areas, have access to quality emergency ambulance services no matter where they live.
Last year, Cortez Masto passed a law to make sure ambulance providers are adequately reimbursed for providing critical services, and this bipartisan bill builds on those efforts by extending and increasing Medicare payments for emergency ambulances in all communities. This legislation will help ambulance service providers hire and retain EMT staff, update their equipment, and continue providing lifesaving medical care across the country, especially in the underserved areas.
“When I heard that medical providers were unable to continue providing ambulance services for Nevadans, I moved quickly to provide stable funding and restore access for our rural communities. Now we need to extend these protections,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My bipartisan legislation will expand these lifesaving medical services everywhere in Nevada, and I will always fight to protect Nevadans’ access to quality emergency care.”
“Whether an automobile accident, a fire, a health crisis, or another catastrophe, paramedics are there in those first critical minutes when courage, skill, and compassion are most needed,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would support these first responders, especially those in rural and underserved communities, by ensuring they are adequately reimbursed by Medicare for their services. As a senator representing one of the most rural states in the country, I will continue to support the brave men and women who work around the clock to protect our communities.”
“Families in rural communities deserve to know emergency care is available,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bill ensures emergency access to health care is available regardless of where they live.”
The bipartisan Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act is supported by the American Ambulance Association, the National Rural Health Association, the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
“We thank Senators Cortez Masto, Collins, Stabenow, and Cassidy for introducing the Preserving Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act and for their strong support for ground ambulance services and the communities and patients we serve,” said Randy Strozyk, President of American Ambulance Association. “The disparity between Medicare reimbursement and the costs of providing services has grown significantly through reductions in reimbursement and skyrocketing expenses for labor, ambulances, and equipment. This bill would help reduce that gap and maintain access to vital ground ambulance services for communities around the country.”
“I thank Senators Cortez Masto, Collins, Stabenow, and Dr. Cassidy for introducing this legislation,” said Fire Chief Donna Black, EFO, CFO, President and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “Many fire and EMS departments — especially in rural areas — are facing shortfalls in equipment and staffing as an aftereffect of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CMS payments provide a lifeline to help fire and EMS departments provide aid and comfort to their citizens.”
The full bill text is available HERE.
Senator Cortez Masto is a leader in the Senate in ensuring Nevadans can access quality, affordable health care. She has pushed the Administration to protect the Medicare Advantage program, which provides quality health care to millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities across the U.S. She has cosponsored legislation to make health care more affordable by giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, capping drug costs, and limiting egregious price hikes by drug manufacturers. Her bipartisan legislation to combat Alzheimer’s disease was signed into law and she is working across the aisle to extend Medicare enrollees’ access to telehealth services no matter where they reside. She is also championing a bipartisan bill to make expanded access to telehealth services, which are critical for Nevada’s rural and tribal communities, permanent.