GMR’s Strozyk Speaks to Congress on Issues Underpinning Pending Healthcare Legislation


AAA President and GMR Senior Vice President Randy Strozyk testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on healthcare issues impacting the delivery of EMS.
On February 14, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce heard testimony on a number of public-health-related issues that have corresponding bills under consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives. American Ambulance Association President and Global Medical Response Senior Vice President of Operations, Randy Strozyk, joined a diverse panel of healthcare leaders offering foundational support for specific bills. The panel included representatives from the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, The Heroes Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Down Syndrome Association.

The Committee on Energy and Commerce (E&C) is vested with the broadest jurisdiction of any congressional authorizing committee, with oversight on all issues and policies powering America’s economy, including health care. The committee, led by E&C Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and E&C Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), initiated a spirited conversation on topics ranging from heart health and traumatic brain injuries, to children’s EMS and medicine shortages for frontline caregivers. The full hearing can be viewed on YouTube.

The SIREN Reauthorization Act
Strozyk was called upon several times to opine on legislative proposals aimed at supporting patients and caregivers. He offered adamant support for House Resolution (HR) 4646, the SIREN Reauthorization Act, which would extend funding through SIREN Act grants to rural fire and EMS agencies, nationwide.

“Much of EMS is provided to rural America by volunteer and not-for-profit public entities,” said Strozyk. “Funding for these entities is always difficult and a challenge, either because of limited tax base or small communities. But as we found during COVID, these programs and these systems were a critical part of delivery of healthcare. At two o’clock in the morning, in the middle of rural America, when you needed help and dialed 911 they came and they provided service.”

Strozyk went on to detail the growing challenges facing rural EMS, including additional training and support to combat the opioid epidemic and the growing number of mental healthcare calls to which EMS providers are responding.

The Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act
Strozyk segued to HR 6960, known as the Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act, which provides funding for equipment and training to help hospitals and paramedics treat pediatric emergencies. He commented on the evolution of child healthcare.

“We've seen the change in healthcare for children, from treating them as small adults to truly what they are: a unique group of citizens,” he said. “We have trained our EMTs and paramedics to have new skills to understand this level of care.”

Strozyk added that this training has been in both smaller, rural settings and larger children’s hospitals in urban settings, thanks to the EMS for Children Act. “This has been incredibly important and we've seen a tremendous increase in efficacy, level of care and positive outcomes. As a grandparent I can't support this more,” he added.

Traumatic Brain Injury Program
Strozyk underscored the important collaboration between EMS and American motorsports, such as NASCAR, IndyCar and IMS, for research into protecting people from brain injuries. He used this work to underscore the critical need to reauthorize the Traumatic Brain Injury Program, which is the subject of HR 7208. The funding from this bill underwrites continuing research into not only reducing these injuries, but recognizing them and determining the best course of treatment.

“We have learned through time that the identification and follow-up of traumatic brain injury is a critical factor in the return to of quality of life by patients who have suffered these injuries,” he said. “Research and education have taught us how to better protect our student athletes how to protect citizens, post-accident, and use this as a means of bringing care forward.”

Poison Control Centers
Strozyk also advocated for the amendment to provide funding for poison centers, noting that these centers, across America, have become a vital part of our system of providing care to citizens. He called them an “incredible resource” and “critical function,” before adding:

“These systems allow citizens, EMS providers, physicians and caregivers to make an immediate contact to a resource that can provide information [on poisons]. It's incredibly critical, it's timely and it provides direction for treatment and follow-up care. It's needed. It's a resource and asset to our country that we many times don't think about.”

Strozyk humorously reminded the committee of the old Mr. Yuck stickers that parents would put on containers and have young children recognize as poison or as otherwise dangerous to consume. He connected this with the role of these poison centers and their efficacy.

Department of Veteran’s Administration
A recent Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Final Rule that could jeopardize Veteran’s access to ground ambulance services was one of the final topics covered. Mr. Strozyk was asked to relate what the VA payment system for ambulance services was before it issued the rule, what the payment framework is now, and how this endangers medical transportation for Veterans.

Strozyk said that the new framework, which has been delayed until February 2025, will move from regulated reimbursement to Medicare reimbursement, which is financially ruinous to ambulances providing VA services. He noted his support for legislation that will first study the impact of the VAs decision before instituting it, even one year hence.

“The challenge is that the VA has not specified, nor defined, how they are going to come back and look at the impact of this change between now and [February 2025]. Bost and others have bills that would require the VA to do a study on the impact of this, both in terms of ground EMS services and air EMS Services. We're asking that those bills be passed. While we appreciate the one-year delay, it doesn't take the problem away. We’re asking for a clear study.”
GMR’s Strozyk Speaks to Congress on Issues Underpinning Pending Healthcare Legislation