Bipartisan Victory in the Senate: Protecting Veterans’ Access to Lifesaving Ambulance Services

By Adam Patterson *


In a significant win for veterans and the ambulance industry, the U.S. Senate recently passed legislation that included an amendment sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, aimed at preventing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from implementing a rule in 2024 that would reduce reimbursement rates for emergency ground and air ambulance services. This bipartisan amendment, with a comparable measure introduced in the U.S. House, is set to sideline a VA policy originally scheduled to take effect in February.

Sen. Jerry Moran, who played a pivotal role in securing this critical amendment, expressed concerns that the VA’s proposed policy would lead to longer wait times for veterans during emergencies and potentially disrupt the ambulance industry, not only in Kansas but also across the nation. He emphasized the importance of ensuring veterans receive lifesaving care and transportation without any disruptions.

“This amendment makes certain that veterans across the nation will continue to receive lifesaving care and transportation without disruption over the next year,” Sen. Moran stated. “By stopping this rule from being implemented in February, we will allow more time for VA to do its due diligence in creating reasonable and commonsense parameters for resetting reimbursement rates for these lifesaving services.”

The Senate amendment regarding transportation services garnered bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana and Republican Senator John Boozman of Arkansas, both of whom serve on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. This collaboration underscores the importance of putting veterans’ needs and the integrity of the ambulance industry first.

In the U.S. House, GOP U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana echoed the Senate’s commitment to protecting veterans. Rep. Zinke introduced a solution to address the VA policy issue, recognizing the potential consequences of the proposed rule. The VA’s plan would reduce reimbursement amounts for ambulance services by tying payments for air ambulance services to data from 1998 and ground transport to data from 2002. This outdated data would disproportionately affect small, mostly rural operators who might be forced to shut down or cease offering services to the VA if Congress did not intervene.

“Our veterans were there when we needed them the most, and now it is our job to be there for them when they need us,” Rep. Zinke emphasized. “Operating off 25-year-old data for lifesaving measures when we have the resources to do better is inexcusable.”

One key issue that came to light during this process was the VA’s assertion that it lacked statutory authority to negotiate contracts for emergency transportation, which necessitated adherence to previous fee schedules. This legal challenge added further urgency to the bipartisan effort in Congress to ensure veterans’ access to high-quality ambulance services.

The collaborative efforts of senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle send a strong message that safeguarding veterans’ healthcare services is a top priority. The amendment’s passage is not just a victory for veterans; it also upholds the vitality of the ambulance industry, particularly for smaller operators who play an essential role in providing timely, life-saving care to those who have served our country.

In uncertain times, the bipartisan unity in Congress demonstrates the unwavering commitment to veterans’ well-being and the belief that our nation’s heroes deserve nothing less than the best in emergency medical care. With the Senate and House working together to block the VA’s ill-conceived rule, veterans can rest assured that their access to critical ambulance services remains a top priority.


*Adam Patterson is QMC’s Vice President of Sales. Adam has 15+ years of healthcare revenue cycle management experience and has worked with hundreds of ambulance services on formation, enrollment, revenue analysis & revenue cycle management. Additionally, he is a Certified Ambulance Documentation Specialist (CADS).



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