On behalf of our President John Gray, I am pleased to announce that meetings with key legislative staff and the Governor last week has given the ArAA a green light to push for the passage of SB649 also known as the EMS Supplemental Payment Program. This bill will set into motion a process whereby the ArAA will work directly with DHS and CMS to structure a supplemental payment program earmarked directly for enhanced EMS payments for Medicaid recipients. As you know, ambulance Medicaid payments have been locked and stagnant for 24 years since we (EMS industry) last advocated for and setup our self-funded mechanism.
Once again, the EMS industry is taking the lead and has a plan to garner federal funds that will be used to return these supplemental payments to the providers covered under this legislation. While volunteer and municipal providers are not included in the bill at this time, there is a mechanism in place where they can join in the future. We respect that moving this program quickly has not allowed municipal providers adequate time to seek council and governing board approvals. But, it is imperative that we establish this process now ahead of future discussions by the feds and CMS on the future of EMS funding. Simply, the hour has arrived and we must move to establish this program now!
Senator Larry Teague has graciously agreed to carry our legislation. He carried similar legislation for the Hospital Association in the past and has the respect of all parties involved in structuring our plan. The bill will be first heard in the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor committee next week. Final edits to the bill are being drafted and we will let you know when it is fully engrossed.
The ArAA will be issuing a Call to Action wherein we will ask all EMS agencies and EMS professionals to contact their local representatives in support of this bill. Support is best achieved when the representatives hear from local agencies and local voters. Attached is a flyer and banner ad picture with the talking points and key features of this legislation. Please help by distributing these materials as your association see fit.
Finally, the ArAA may need your assistance with a call-in contact campaign. The “pink slip party” has been effective for us in the past. Should we issue a call to action that requires calls to the House and Senate switchboards on the day of a critical vote, we will once again reach out to you and the AEMTA for help. It’s important to know that there is power in numbers. We appreciate the working relationship we share with the AEMTA and thank you for your ongoing support.
Should you have any questions, please contact me. We feel good about this bill and look forward to passage and the support it will bring to Arkansas’ EMS providers.
Ken Kelley, Government Affairs Chair
Arkansas Ambulance Association
PO Box 11330
El Dorado, AR 71730