Advocacy in Integrated Healthcare Award: Recognizing an elected or appointed legislator or regulator from any level of government who has made significant impact on the integration or advancement of EMS.
Description of Initiatives & Impacts
Senator Cortez-Masto has a track record of supporting and proposing legislation that addresses disparities in health care and works to improve the health care system. Cortez-Masto represents Nevada - a state in which nearly 10 percent of the population lives in rural or frontier areas - 87 percent of the land mass of Nevada is rural or frontier land. Nevertheless, Senator Cortez-Masto is a tireless advocate for the belief that all Americans have the right to affordable, quality health care.
In response to provider shortages in rural communities that could affect the health care coverage of nearly 8,000 Nevadans, Cortez Masto cosponsored the Marketplace Certainty Act to stabilize the health care markets, lower premiums for consumers and prevent insurers from leaving rural counties. Senator Cortez-Masto visited REMSA Health in August 2019 to learn more about its partnership with Northern Nye County (an AIMHI Excellence in EMS award-winning partnership) to provide community paramedics and telehealth services in an area otherwise unserved by 24/7 health care. During her visit it was obvious that the Senator has a deep understanding of the complexities of the health care system, as well as how the out-of-hospital health care provided by ambulance transport and mobile health care organizations fit into that landscape - in an urban and rural environment.
In mid-March 2020, REMSA Health was contacted by Senator Cortez-Masto’s office to arrange a meeting in which she could speak with administrative and operational leaders to learn more about REMSA Health’s immediate needs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. REMSA Health’s leadership and the Senator’s team spoke again a few months later, as well.
Senator Cortez-Masto remains supportive of the Affordable Care Act, from which, REMSA Health received a healthcare innovation award to test out new payment models that improve care quality and access while delivering savings to the health care system.
A recent example of the Senator’s commitment to broadening the position of mobile healthcare was her support of S. 149 - a bill that she, along with Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), introduced allowing the removal of a barrier that prevented ground ambulance service organizations from being reimbursed for health care services they provide. This bill addressed a specific situation (a community-wide protocol restricting the transport of the patient) during an unprecedented event (a global pandemic). While it doesn’t support all out-of-hospital health care organizations in terms of reimbursement, it does bring into focus the idea that ambulance transport agencies and mobile health care organizations are uniquely positioned to navigate patients to the right level of care - a key component in the overarching goal of stabilizing health care. In a February 2021 article in EMS World, Cortez Masto is quoted as saying, “Nevada’s ambulance organizations are going above and beyond to keep low-risk patients out of the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of being rewarded for this innovative, lifesaving work, they’re being penalized by an outdated payment system. I’m proud to introduce legislation that would ensure that ambulance providers are properly paid for all services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries, regardless of whether those patients are transported to the hospital or other healthcare facility.”
The Senator was honored by the American Ambulance Association as Legislator of the Year in 2021.
CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO - Senator from Nevada; born in Las Vegas, Nev., March 29, 1964; B.A., University of Nevada, 1986; J.D., Gonzaga University School of Law, 1990; admitted to the Nevada bar in 1990; assistant county manager, Clark County, Nev.; chief of staff to Nevada governor Bob Miller; federal prosecutor; attorney general of Nevada 2007-2015; executive vice chancellor for the Nevada System of Higher Education; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 2016 for the term ending January 3, 2023; chair, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (2019-2021).