Meet Amber: The Software Must-Have for Cost Data Collection

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The process of Ambulance Cost Data Collection is continuing to move along and, as we move closer to January 2020, a few other important steps are drawing near as well.  Amber, a user-friendly web-based system for entering the federally required data is entering beta-testing phases with a wide-release anticipated later this year. Amber, created exclusively by the American Ambulance Association in conjunction with industry experts, is designed to make cost data collection, and submission of the required data, as painless as possible.  Users of this system will end up with two items: A file that can be submitted to meet agency requirements of cost data collection An ongoing dataset that the American Ambulance Association and policy makers can use as they continue fighting for increased funding for mobile healthcare Wondering…
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How Hard Could Cost Data Collection Be Anyway?

How Hard Could Cost Data Collection Be Anyway?

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Cost Data Collection…how hard could it really be?  You have costs, you report costs, job complete…right? Wrong! We wish it would be that simple, but the fact is cost data collection is more involved, and many ambulance services do things slightly (or not so slightly) differently which makes this process even more difficult.  Ambulance services across the country need to get on the same page so we are able to submit data that makes sense, paints a clear picture of what it costs to do what we do, and allows policy makers to make informed decisions that will actually benefit mobile healthcare. The proposed rule was released by CMS on Monday, July 29th and the AAA’s summary of the rule is available for members here.  The proposed rule, for the…
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Quick Takes: Accounting for Volunteers

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In a new era of CMS data collection efforts, the distinctions between volunteers and paid staff are important to understand - not only for determining allowable costs, but also for arriving at meaningful utilization data. As part of our Quick Takes series, we talk about some things to consider. [video mp4="https://ambulancereports.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/QTvols.mp4"]
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Quick Takes: Allowable vs. Non-Allowable Costs

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In a new era of CMS data collection efforts, it is critical to understand the distinctions between allowable and non-allowable costs in the context of Medicare reimbursement. As part of our Quick Takes series, here's an overview of some of the issues involved. [video mp4="https://ambulancereports.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/QTallowable.mp4"]
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CMS Launches Outreach Effort to Ambulance Providers & Suppliers

CMS Launches Outreach Effort to Ambulance Providers & Suppliers

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As part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018), the Congress instructed CMS to develop a cost collection system to collect cost and revenue data related to the provision of ambulance services. Ambulance services are defined by federal law to include all levels of emergency and non-emergency services.  CMS is in the first phase of this process. The Congress instructed the Agency to engage with stakeholders before specifying through notice and comment rulemaking the data collection system. By law, CMS is required to specify the final system by December 31, 2019. CMS must also identify the first group of providers and suppliers selected for the first representative sample by that date as well. It appears that the goal is to have the contractor develop a proposal before the…
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Collecting Data for the Future

Collecting Data for the Future

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Collecting Data for the Future:  Understanding the New Statutory Cost Collection Requirement By Kathy Lester, JD, MPH, Lester Health Law PLLC On February 9, the President signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 which thankfully included a five-year extension of the ambulance add-ons.  Along with the add-ons extension, the Congress included language requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop and implement a new cost data collection system for ambulance service providers and suppliers.  While cost collection may sound difficult, the process outlined in the new authority strikes the appropriate balance and will minimize the burden on ambulance service providers and suppliers, while allowing the federal government to collect meaningful data that can be used to address the inadequate reimbursement rates and modernize Medicare ambulance…
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Overview of The Moran Company Recommendations on Ambulance Cost Collection System

Overview of The Moran Company Recommendations on Ambulance Cost Collection System

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Overview of The Moran Company Recommendations on Ambulance Cost Collection System  From 2012 – 2014, The Moran Company developed, through a three-phase project, recommendations about how the Medicare program could collect costs associated with providing ambulance services. Consistent as well with the findings of the Congressionally mandated report on ambulance cost reporting/cost collection, The Moran Company determined that Medicare cost reporting would not be appropriate, result in the submission of accurate data, or solve the historic problem of under-reporting by the industry. Instead, The Moran Company recommended a “hybrid” model that relies on the data elements and accounting methods used in Medicare cost reporting and collects this information in a two-step process to ensure that the unique and varied business structures and their cost differences are appropriately captured. Step 1:  Collect…
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CMS Releases Ambulance Cost Data Collection Report

CMS Releases Ambulance Cost Data Collection Report

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its report on the feasibility of collecting cost data from ambulance service providers.  Under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, Congress directed CMS to conduct the report entitled “Evaluation of Hospitals’ Ambulance Data on Medicare Cost Reports and Feasibility of Obtaining Cost Data from All Ambulance Providers and Suppliers”. The report can be accessed here. The report states that due to the diverse nature of our industry with a majority of providers being small entities, traditional mandatory ambulance cost reporting is not feasible.  While it does not make a recommendation on a data collection system, the report highlights the work of the AAA with The Moran Company and will be helpful in our push for a survey approach to collecting…
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The Importance of Ambulance Cost Survey Data

The Importance of Ambulance Cost Survey Data

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By Kathy Lester, JD, MPH | Updated November 9, 2015 Tomorrow is in your hands today. This statement is especially true when we think about the evolution of ambulance services. Today, care once reserved for the hospital setting is now delivered at the scene, resulting in better patient outcomes. Yet, despite these advances, the Medicare payment system lags behind. Current rates are based upon a negotiated rulemaking process that did not take the cost of providing services into accounts. While many in the industry strive to further expand the delivery of high-quality care, the inflexibility of the current payment system makes it difficult to compensate the next generation of ambulance service providers appropriately. To prepare for tomorrow, ambulances services must act today. The AAA has taken a leadership role by…
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