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With A Hands On Approachto shaping the legislative and regulatory policies for our community, supporting appropriate reimbursement of medical transports, fighting for the right to provide services as allowed under Federal legislation, and advocating for a unique level of patient care, Cal-AAMS ensures that its members have a voice in what is happening in our industry..

If you have a questions regarding advocacy, policies and/or key issues, please feel free to contact us...

Open Letter To Governor Newsom & California State Legislature


Commnetary by: Christian Giller, President of California Association of Air Medical Services.

Air ambulances save lives, flying thousands of missions to connect the sick or injured with emergency, trauma or specialty care. But without urgent action by State of California, these life-saving services and the Californians they serve are at risk.

If the State Legislature does not take immediate action to assure a new funding source, air medical bases across the state will be forced to close or cut back on the emergency services they provide, leaving a perilous hole in California's emergency readiness for all... READ MORE

Letter From The President

Commentary from CALmatters: Guest Commentary | June 3, 2019

Christian Giller, President of California Association of Air Medical Services.

New Budget Omits An Important Piece Of California’s Disaster Preparedness

"California’s 70 emergency air ambulance helicopters and airplanes cover nearly 164,000 square miles and serve more than 37 million Californians in their time of need.

To protect newborns and their mothers, air ambulances evacuated an entire neonatal unit at a Redding Hospital and transported the patients to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento during devastating Carr Fire in 2018. Air ambulances fly injured firefighters and residents to burn centers to receive the urgent, life-saving care they needed. Inexplicably, the state budget process has left out support for air ambulance. The emergency services provided by air ambulances could disappear if a funding stream that expires at the end of this year is not replaced in the pending state budget.

Imagine no air ambulances available as a resource to firefighters who are on the front lines, or to hospitals facing evacuation when threatened with a coming wall of fire, or to critical patients in rural or remote areas who suffer a heart attack or stroke. Access to life-saving rapid air ambulance transport may be their only hope.

Last year, the Legislature unanimously approved funding for air ambulances. Health Access, the Western Center on Law & Poverty, the Rural County Representatives of California, the California Children’s Hospital Association, the California Hospital Association, the California Fire Chiefs Association all supported that legislation.

Funding comes from a fee on certain traffic tickets. But that fee that will cease at the end of December. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the 2018 legislation and requested that funding be addressed in the 2019-2020 state budget being negotiated now.

Yet here we are, in the final days of budget hearings before the next spending plan takes effect on July 1, and new funding has not been appropriated. Unless air ambulance is added to the state budget, we will have no choice but to pursue legislation, the very route rejected by our previous governor.

The cost of updating the 25 year old rates to something closer to the cost of providing the service would be about $17 million. This cost is not insignificant, but these services are essential, and must be accessible to all Californians.

If the Legislature does not act to assure a supplemental funding source, air medical bases across the state will face some tough decisions on how to stay in operation with insufficient, reduced capabilities - Worse, some rural bases may be forced to close.

As climate change-related disasters worsen, we need to be doing more–not less–to ensure our communities are prepared for emergencies.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a state of emergency to get California prepared for coming natural disasters, such as fire. How could life-saving air ambulances not be part of that future?”


Industry Key Issues

Unified Optional Scope of Practice for California within Qualified Transport Programs
In collaboration with Cal-AAMS, the state EMS Authority (EMSA), Emergency Medical Directors Association of California (EMDAC), and Emergency Medical Services Administrators Association of California (EMSAAC), have agreed that transport medics may be permitted to practice under an expanded scope of practice. The details are noted in the actual document on this page.

This development is noteworthy in that all three of these regulatory agencies recognized special circumstances surrounding extended transports, and worked together to establish a policy and practice program to serve the needs of affected patients.

Cal-AAMS continues to work with these agencies to develop an information and data compilation program to evaluate and QA the process. . .a critical requirement to validate the decision, and to set a precedent for future cooperation. Our members will be contacted and updated by Vice-President Erin Cox as the reporting system is rolled out.


On "Today, 70% of Air Ambulance Transports are uninsured or covered by Medicare and MediCal, whose reimbursement rates have not changed in many year"

Since then, support from the state of California was not included in the budget. As a result, legislation, in the form of Assembly Bill 651 is being considered by the legislature. AB 651 would mandate that part of the shortfall in reimbursement to our members for the transport of MediCal patients be included as a budget item. We are optimistic that it will pass and signed by the governor. However we encourage our members and friends to make their support known to their legislators and Governor Newsom’s office.


The “Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act” (H.R. 3378 and S. 2121), is bipartisan legislation that would address the shortfall in Medicare reimbursements for air medical services. CAL-AAMS encourages members to contact their Senators and Members of Congress to ask them to cosponsor the legislation.

The bills would reform the Medicare fee schedule for air ambulance services, starting with a cost reporting and analysis program conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), followed by: rebasing of air medical reimbursements; and implementation of a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program. The bill would enhance transparency by establishing cost and quality reporting requirements, as well as solve for a growing gap between Medicare payments and costs.

The “No Surprises Act” (H.R. 3630), and the Lower Health Care Costs Act (S. 1895) fail to recognize the losses incurred transporting under-insured patients, and seek to limit an air ambulance provider’s need to overcome these losses by arbitrarily capping private reimbursements. If Congress truly wants to help patients avoid exorbitant health care costs, it must focus on addressing reimbursement shortfalls by both government-funded and private insurers.

Additional Links:


AAMS position on the use of UAV's

AAMS opposes ATC system privatization

AAMS Supports GAO Report Recommendations

AAMS position on Crash Resistant Fuel Systems (CRFS)

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