Following a brief partial government shutdown, the Senate passed the latest continuing resolution -- Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 -- by a vote of 71-28 in the early hours of February 9 followed promptly by passage in the House of Representatives by a vote of 240-186, and ultimately signed by the President. The bill extends government funding at current levels through March 23, and lawmakers hope to use the interim time to negotiate a complete omnibus spending bill to fund the government through September 30, the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2018.
Notably, the funding resolution includes Medicare add-on payments for ground ambulances that will be in effect for five years (December 31, 2022), including the 3 percent increase for ground ambulance trips originating in rural areas, the 2 percent increase for ground ambulance trips originating in urban areas, and a "super rural" add-on of 22.6 percent for ambulance services in the "lowest population density" areas.
In addition to extending ambulance add-on payment, the law requires CMS (in 2020) to collect certain cost, revenue and utilization information from a representative sample of providers and suppliers of ground ambulance services.
Beginning in 2022, ambulance providers and suppliers failing to submit this information will have payments reduced by 10 percent. Notably, these requirements do not apply to suppliers of air ambulance services.
The legislation includes several other significant health care policy changes impacting Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health agencies. To learn more about the health initiatives included in the spending bill, please see the attached memo.