President Obama last week signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013. Amendments to HR 4310:
- Reauthorize the FIRE and SAFER grant programs through FY 2017
- Reauthorize the through FY 2017
- Make reforms to the Public Safety Officers Benefits program
- Authorize the transfer of up to seven excess aircraft from the U.S. Department of Defense to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for wildland firefighting operations
The House and Senate passed the bill in late December.
“I would like to thank our supporters on Capitol Hill and the leadership of the other fire service organizations for working together to achieve these major accomplishments,”President Hank Clemmensen said when the bill was passed.
Obama also signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. HR 8 grants a one-year extension of current Medicare bonus payments for ground-ambulance service providers.
For the next year, the bonus payments will remain at the following rates:
- 2% for transports originating in urban areas
- 3% for transports originating in rural areas
- 22.6% for transports originating in super-rural areas
The law also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct two studies on the effectiveness of Medicare bonus payments:
- The first study requires HHS to analyze data currently available on costs and payments for ambulance services. This report is due to Congress by Oct. 1, 2013
- The second study requires HHS to assess methods of regularly obtaining cost and payment information from ambulance service providers in order to assess the effectiveness of Medicare reimbursement rates. This study is due to Congress by July 1, 2014.
The IAFC will assist the HHS to develop these studies and ensure the representation of fire-based EMS systems.