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Air Ambulance Prices and Practices: Opportunity for Change, Act Now

Posted By Louise Probst, Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Operating without price competition or oversight, air ambulance companies too often have taken financial advantage of Missouri patients. At last, an opportunity exists to put pressure on the unfettered pricing power of air ambulance companies across the nation. Thanks to the dedicated work of organizations like the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership and The ERISA Industry Committee, a legislative window of opportunity has opened. Employer support is needed to help it cross the finish line.
To ensure safe and coordinated service, the federal government currently regulates all air travel. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA), designed to increase price competition across national commercial airlines, prohibited states from determining the cost of any air travel. With the ADA extending to air medical transport, states have been blocked from enacting reasonable rules in response to air ambulance pricing practices.
With little reason for air ambulances to participate as an in-network provider, patients are left liable for charges above the "reasonable" payments made by their health plans. These regularly amount to tens of thousands of dollars and are accompanied by threatening calls from collection agencies. More common than you might hope, these air ambulance bills are a hardship for many Missourians and several BHC members - if you are not one yet, consider yourself lucky.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is considering an amendment to a FAA reauthorization bill that will enable states to regulate air ambulance pricing practices. As an employer, you can make an impact by sending Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (who sits on this committee) a message asking for his support or by having your government affairs representative reach out to the Senator's staff. This matter has been a challenge for BHC members for over a decade, but the combined engagement of Missouri's leading employers will help make change possible.
Click here to see a fact sheet about the issue and to view BHC's letter to Senator Blunt.
Warm regards,

Louise Probst
BHC Executive Director


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