President Joe Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Among the many provisions within the 550-page law is new CMS waiver authority that would provide reimbursement to ambulance services for treatment in place during the public health emergency. Specifically, this waiver would allow CMS to pay for ground ambulance services furnished in response to a 9-1-1 call (or equivalent in areas without 9-1-1) in cases where a patient was not transported but was instead treated in place in accordance with communitywide EMS protocols.
Two important steps must occur before ambulance services are reimbursed for treatment in place.
1. CMS must exercise this new public health emergency waiver authority—and so far CMS has implemented all other waivers authorized by Congress under the law during the pandemic.
2. EMS agencies must ensure that they have communitywide EMS protocols in place that describe when treatment in place (and no transport) should take place (i.e., the circumstances where treatment in place is appropriate). These protocols should be developed in close cooperation with your system’s medical director.
What does this mean for ambulance services? Now is the time to review your current treatment protocols to ensure that they allow for treatment in place during the pandemic and update them accordingly if they do not.
There are several other important provisions in the American Rescue Plan that will benefit EMS agencies, including:
Additional funding of the Provider Relief Fund for rural EMS
Additional funding of the Paycheck Protection Program and expansion of eligibility
Extension of valuable employer tax credits for paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Find the relevant text of the law here. PWW will continue to provide important updates on reimbursement for treatment in place during the public health emergency, as well as these other beneficial aspects of this new law.