Moran’s amendment on VA reimbursement for ambulance services clears Senate

by Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector
November 2, 2023

TOPEKA — The U.S. Senate passed legislation that included an amendment sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas blocking the Department of Veterans Affairs from implementing a rule in 2024 reducing reimbursement rates for emergency ground and air ambulance services.

The bipartisan amendment — a comparable measure has been introduced in the U.S. House — would sideline a VA policy set to take effect in February.

Moran said the policy would lead to longer wait times for veterans during emergencies and disrupt the ambulance industry in Kansas and elsewhere.

“This amendment makes certain that veterans across the nation will continue to receive lifesaving care and transportation without disruption over the next year,” Moran said. “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 was sponsored by Moran, Democratic U.S. Jon tester of Montana and Republican Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas. All three serve on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

In the House, GOP U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana said a fix for the VA policy had been introduced. The VA rule would reduce reimbursement amounts for ambulance services by linking payment for air ambulance services to 1998 data and for ground transport to 2002 data.

Small, and mostly rural, operators would likely be forced to either shut down or stop offering services to the VA if Congress didn’t agree on a fix, Zinke said.

“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,” Zinke said. “Operating off  25-year-old data for lifesaving measures when we have the resources to do better is inexcusable.”

He said the VA indicated it didn’t have statutory authority to to negotiate contracts for emergency transportation, which required adherence to previous fee schedules.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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