LaHood’s bill ensures ambulance access to rural Medicare beneficiaries

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) on May 24 sponsored his chamber’s version of a bipartisan bill to restructure cuts to Medicare reimbursements that impact ambulance services in rural areas across the United States.

“These changes to Medicare reimbursements will negatively impact providers’ ability to offer around-the-clock services in central and west-central Illinois,” Rep. LaHood said on Monday. “Our bill will correct these changes to better reflect the realities rural emergency service providers face, while continuing to assist the emergent and non-emergent ambulance needs of all Medicare patients across the 18th District.”

Rep. LaHood introduced the Non-Emergency Ambulance Transportation Sustainability and Accountability (NEATSA) Act of 2019, H.R. 3021, with U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) to amend the Social Security Act to restructure the payment adjustment for non-emergency ambulance transports under the Medicare program for persons with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Currently, existing law authorizes a 23 percent cut in reimbursement for all non-emergency ESRD ambulance transports of Medicare beneficiaries.

If enacted, the NEATSA Act would restructure the payment reductions to reflect the proportion of pre-scheduled, non-emergency ESRD transports a company makes, according to a summary provided by Rep. LaHood’s office, which noted that the change would allow service providers to pay an appropriate percentage of the offset costs while ensuring providers and other non-emergency transport services continue providing access to ambulance transportation for Medicare beneficiaries.

“Emergency ambulance services in rural areas are essential for patients and it’s vital we continue to support them,” said Rep. LaHood. “Yet recent reductions in Medicare payments threaten to hinder access to ambulance services in rural communities across the country.”

The same-named companion bill, S. 228, was introduced in January by U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Doug Jones (D-AL).