Congress is taking August off and heading home. That’s a perfect opportunity, Advocates for EMS suggests, to talk to members about its field EMS bill.
That bill—officially H.R. 3144, the Field EMS Quality, Innovation and Cost-Effectiveness Improvements Act—provides essential funding and institutional support for prehospital EMS from the U.S. federal government. It presently awaits committee action in the U.S. House of Representatives. Advocates asks EMS providers and supporters to contact their representatives in that body during the recess and seek their sponsorship of the bill. It has bipartisan support, with lead sponsorship from Reps. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Sue Myrick (R-NC).
Beginning that action this week is important, as the recess commences on Saturday, Aug. 4. It concludes Sept. 9.
Advocates outlines three steps supporters can take:
1. By this Friday, Aug. 3, schedule an appointment with your representative or their home office staff for sometime in August. (If you don’t know your representative, find them by zip code at http://www.house.gov/representatives.) When contacting members’ district offices, explain who you are, what you wish to speak about and why it’s important.
2. Meet with your representative or their staffer by Aug. 31 (or into September, if need be, but members will return to Washington when the recess is over). Explain your role in the community, what the legislation does and why it’s needed. Advocates provides a one-page summary of key points; see its information page here. Request that your representative cosponsor the bill.
3. Follow up with their Washington office by Sept. 7. Using the phone number from the link in Step #1, call the member’s healthcare legislative assistant in D.C. and reprise the key information you went over during the district meeting. Offer to e-mail them Advocates’ summary.
If you do this, Advocates requests that you let them know by Sept. 10. E-mail Paolo Mastrangelo with the names of the people you met with in your district and spoke to in Washington, any requests for more information, and their general level of interest.
The Field EMS Quality, Innovation and Cost-Effectiveness Improvements Act will:
• Create a lead federal EMS agency within the Department of Health and Human Services to provide strategy, coordination and support for prehospital EMS.
• Authorize several grant programs, including:
—EQUIP (for Excellence, Quality, Universal Access, Innovation and Preparedness), providing $200 million to promote excellence, enhance quality, promote access, spur innovation, improve patient safety and enhance preparedness;
—SPIA (for System Performance, Integration and Accountability), providing $50 million for states to improve performance, integration, accountability and preparedness; enhance medical oversight and regional systems; improve data collection; and promote standardization of certification.
—Field EMS education grants, providing $15 million for educational institutions and professional associations to improve the availability, quality and capabilities of educators, practitioners and medical directors.
• Prompt study of liability issues that may impede high-quality care and medical oversight; gaps in data collection; and integration of patient data across settings.
• Facilitate research through creation of an evidence-based practice center.
• Establish models for evaluation and demonstration of alternative dispositions for patients not requiring hospital transport.
• Create a dedicated EMS trust fund and opportunity for voluntary contributions on federal income tax forms.