Pass the Field EMS Bill!
As physicians, we are sometimes not as interested in participating in advocacy as we should be. Although we have some politically powerful organizations, such as the AMA and ACEP, it is still very difficult to get most physicians involved. EMS physicians are no different and, in addition, we tend to have a number of things competing for our attention. (Yes – I said it – we kind of have ADD). Why should this be any different? I think that part of the responsibility of becoming a specialty is to advocate for those things that will improve our systems and, most importantly, our patient’s care and outcomes. In keeping with these thoughts, I want to remind you that NAEMSP helped develop, and is in support of, the Field EMS Quality, Innovation, and Cost-Effectiveness Improvements Act (H.R. 809) otherwise known as the Field EMS Bill. While the name may seem odd, the intent was to create legislation that applies specifically to the aspects of EMS performed in the field by EMS providers. The term EMS in federal language ranges from 911 dispatch all the way through post hospital discharge rehabilitation. This bill is specifically written to promote and improve what you and I do every day, take care of people outside the hospital setting.
The legislation would address the systemic problems plaguing field EMS by:
- Implementing key IOM recommendations — including the designation of HHS as the primary federal agency for EMS to better integrate EMS within the larger health system to ensure continuity of care from the patient's perspective;
- Enhancing federal support — for EMS agencies, states and educational entities, and for EMS research to promote high quality field EMS; and consolidating existing programs within HHS into one Office of EMS and Trauma;
- Providing increased funding for EMS research as well implementation and training for medical oversight;
- Evaluating and testing new EMS delivery and payment models — with the goal of improving outcomes and lowering costs, and
- Fulfilling public expectations — better enabling EMS to fulfill public expectations that all Americans can depend upon high quality care and transport to the right setting no matter where they live.
No bill is ever perfect, but this is a step in the right direction. We need federal champions looking out and working for us in DC everyday as part of the federal government. We need to be a part of national conversations in health care, homeland security, transportation, and the other essential services we provide at the local level. This bill can help fulfill this need and position EMS for future stability and growth.
To make this a reality, we need YOU to get involved, educate yourself on the issues and, advocate for the bill with your congressional representatives. At the Annual Meeting in Tucson, you will be given an opportunity to send a letter to your congressional representative, but you don’t need to wait until then.
to access more information about the Field EMS Bill and find an easy way to ask for your representatives’ support.
I would like to thank our Strategic Partner, NAEMT, for taking the lead on this important issue and making their resources available. These initiatives are time intensive and expensive and collaboration is the key to success. Our goal is 100 co-sponsors by EMS on the Hill Day on March 26. Please join me, ACEP, NEMSMA, NAEMT, and the many other EMS associations that are supporting the Field EMS Bill and contact your representative today.