Cost Data Collection

This year Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. This piece of legislation has a large impact on the ambulance industry. The Act extended the ground ambulance add-on payments through December 31, 2022. The temporary add-on payments include: 3 percent increase in the base and mileage rate for ground ambulance transports that originate in rural areas, 2 percent increase in the base and mileage rate for ground ambulance transports that originate in urban areas; and 22.6 percent increase in the base rate for ground ambulance transports that originate in super rural areas.

Additionally, the Act directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a data collection system (which may include use of a cost survey) to collect cost, revenue, utilization, and other information determined appropriate by the Secretary with respect to providers and suppliers of ground ambulance services. Not later than December 31, 2019, the Secretary must specify the data collection system and identify a representative sample of providers and suppliers required to submit information under the data collection system for the first year. This system will be developed and published through the federal rulemaking process in 2019. Actual reporting will not take place until 2020. Data will be collected each year from 2020 through 2024. Cost data collection will continue at least every three years from 2025 on.

In addition, among other things, the Act allows for a 10 percent reduction to ambulance fee schedule payments made to a provider or supplier that is required to submit information under the data collection system with respect to a period, and does not sufficiently submit such information, as determined by the Secretary.

It is of the utmost importance that ambulance providers become familiar with the cost data collection process due to the fact reimbursement will be dependent on the accuracy and completeness of the data compiled. If the data submitted by providers is flawed, there could be a negative impact to the ambulance industry as a whole.

The American Ambulance Association (AAA) has put together information on cost data collection and has been working with a health-care analytics firm for several years to determine the most appropriate way for CMS to collect cost data from ambulance providers. In addition, the AAA will be hosting a series of webinars on different aspects of cost data collection.

Follow the below links to get more information and educational resources on cost data collection:

https://ambulancereports.org/