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Ann Davison, CAE
Strategic Information Manager

US Bill to Extend Medicare Ambulance Bonus Payments

January 4, 2013

President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8) into U.S. law. The bill is being credited with steering the United States away from the so-called, fiscal cliff, but also grants a one-year extension of current Medicare bonus payments for ground-ambulance service providers.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have addressed the chronic under-reimbursement of ground-ambulance service providers by providing bonus payments for ground-ambulance transports originating in rural, urban, and super-rural areas. These bonus payments were set to expire on January 1; however, the legislation signed yesterday continues them at their current rates through January 1, 2014.

For the next year, the bonus payments will remain at the following rates:

  • 2% for transports originating in urban areas
  • 3% for transports originating in rural areas
  • 22.6% for transports originating in super-rural areas

The law also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct two studies on the effectiveness of Medicare bonus payments:

  • The first study requires HHS to analyze data currently available on costs and payments for ambulance services. This report is due to Congress by October 1, 2013
  • The second study requires HHS to assess methods of regularly obtaining cost and payment information from ambulance service providers in order to assess the effectiveness of Medicare reimbursement rates. This study is due to Congress by July 1, 2014.

The IAFC will assist the HHS to develop these studies and ensure the representation of fire-based EMS systems.

About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.