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Opinion: Air ambulances keep health care accessible

  

The issue of surprise billing continues to come up at the state and federal level. It’s time for Congress to tackle this issue head-on and ensure we are protecting patients and their access to emergency health services. 

E.J. Fleischmann

Surprise billing refers to the balance of an emergency medical bill that insurers do not cover, meaning it finds its way to the patient’s lap. This is a critical issue – patients should not receive after-the-fact, significant bills after emergency medical transportation. 

Unfortunately, Congress’ current proposal the Lower Health Care Costs Act creates more problems than it solves. The proposal would likely prompt air ambulance base closures across the country. By discouraging adequate in-network agreements between insurers and the air ambulance companies, air ambulance operators would not receive the reimbursements the need to cover the costs of their services. In an attempt to protect patients from billing, this law puts health care access at risk.

With rural hospital closures across Missouri, patients find themselves further and further from the care they require. Air ambulances are often the last lifeline connecting communities the quality of hospital necessary in dire situations. We should not be considering legislation that actually limits Missourians’ access to health care. 

Congress needs to find a solution that keeps patients away from billing negotiations while protecting rural American’s access to life-saving air ambulances. Anything less would be detrimental to our state.