Do you have a question related to Cost Data Collection? Email our team of experts at AceFaculty@ambulance.org!
Q. With everything happening with COVID-19, is Cost Collection going to get delayed or pushed back?
A: CMS has issued a blanket waiver modifying the data collection period for the ground ambulance services that were selected to report in Year 1. Under the current law, these organizations would have been required to collect data beginning January 1, 2020, and through December 31, 2020. The waiver allows these organizations to select a new continuous 12-month data collection period that begins between January 1, 2021 and ends December 31, 2021. This modification means that such organizations will collect and report data during the same time period as the ground organizations that CMS will select for Year 2 of the cost collection program. View the full write-up and summary of the change here.
Q. How does the American Ambulance Association plan to continue with ACE Workshops given the stay at home orders, ban on large gatherings, and social distancing standards?
A. The American Ambulance Association and ACE Faculty are working hard to translate the in-person ACE Workshop program and content into a virtual workshop. We expect this to be ready in June 2020 and will share more information as soon as it is available. The webinars will continue as scheduled – you can find upcoming webinars and catch-up on on-demand webinars here.
Q. I heard there was a scholarship or grant program for smaller services, is that true?
A. Yes! The Savvik Foundation and the American Ambulance Association have launched a grant program available to Savvik member ambulance services who are classified as rural or super-rural and who are preparing to comply with the Cost Data Collection program through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Through Savvik Member purchases under contracts, the Savvik Foundation was able to fund grant dollars through the American Ambulance Association (AAA). Through this grant, services classified as rural or super-rural will be eligible to receive a one-year AAA Ambulance Cost Education Gold subscription, which includes access to experts on cost collection, access to AMBER software, and free registration to Webinars and Regional Workshops. Apply now!
Q. Can you please define what is included in the term “stipend”?
A: The response in the Final Rule regarding comments about what should be included when responding to “stipends and benefits” for volunteer labor:
“Commenters also stated that the definition of stipends and benefits for volunteer labor should be broadened to include all forms of compensation from the ground ambulance organization such as insurance, stipends, or other forms of compensation. The data collection instrument collects information on volunteer hours and total compensation of any type from the ground ambulance organization so we agree that the definition of “stipends and/or benefits” should be broadened to include all forms of compensation from the ground ambulance organization such as insurance, stipends, or other forms of compensation.”
This would suggest that any form of compensation or benefits that are provided to the volunteer must be included in the compensation for that volunteer employee.
Q. Can you please define the term “volunteer”?
A: The response from the Final Rule regarding volunteers: “Volunteers may receive some forms of compensation but are not considered full or part-time employees if they are not paid a minimum wage in return for full or part-time labor.”
Q. Are municipally based ambulance agencies a shared service?
A: Generally, most government-operated ambulance services are operating on a shared services model. In other words, there is an entity that provides some goods, services, or functions on behalf of the ambulance service that are not reflected or accounted for in their organization’s budget. For example, a fire department based ambulance typically does not have a person handling human resource related functions. This is typically handled by a person whose costs are paid by the municipality and not necessarily itemized in the ambulance service’s budget. In this instance, the EMS service would need to find out and allocate a portion of the HR person’s costs to the fire-based EMS service.
E-mail our ACE Faculty at AceFaculty@ambulance.org for an answer specific to your organization!
Q. Does the relocation of an ambulance to an area during a surge qualify as a standby, count towards a non-transport, or is it able to be counted at all?
A: This will be answered in Question 2 in Section 5. They ask for total responses regardless of level of service or geography. This is where those responses will be reported.
Q. What year are we to be tracking costs? I thought it was to be 2020…?
A: If you were picked to report for reporting year 2020, those are the costs you should be reporting. Even if you were not chosen for 2020, you should be tracking costs! The first year of data will likely not be the most accurate or successful year. By the time the 3rd & 4th-year groups are reporting data, they should have the experience in tracking data and the information should be iron-clad.
Q. Isn’t it true that we cannot access or use AMBER software until later, or 2022?
A: Those who have subscribed already should have access to AMBER. If you have subscribed and have not accessed AMBER yet, contact the AAA for your login credentials.