Protect air ambulance patients

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, June 13, 2019

To the editor:

It’s encouraging to see the recent congressional effort to protect patients from surprise medical bills, and we’re supportive of the recent work of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to convene a hearing around this issue.

Air medical providers never want to see patients financially burdened with large medical bills. Unfortunately, they occur as a result of an outdated reimbursement system, where air ambulances are squeezed by both government reimbursements and private insurers. Medicare reimbursement rates haven’t been updated in 20 years and only cover a small portion of the actual costs of care, despite 70 percent of air medical patients being covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or having no coverage.

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Further, some private insurers, who cover the remaining 30 percent of patients, refuse to go in-network with air medical companies, or arbitrarily deny coverage, leaving patients stuck in the middle and air ambulances struggling to continue operating.
We’re hopeful that the recent hearing encourages Congress to continue working towards addressing the root causes of the balance billing problem while also ensuring that emergency health care providers, such as air medical services, can continue to provide life-saving care and transport to patients across the country.

Carter Johnson

Spokesperson, Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR)