We’re encouraged to see state governments across the country attempting to address health care costs with policies protecting patients from surprise bills. Maine is one of 25 states with such a law in place, but it shouldn’t be necessary. A federal solution is needed so that all Americans, no matter their ZIP code, have coverage when it counts.
Some patients get a balance bill because of a broken reimbursement system, both on the part of government payors and private insurers. For air ambulances, Medicare reimbursement rates haven’t been updated in 20 years, covering a fraction of the actual cost of care.
Because more than 70 percent of air medical patients are covered by government payors, the remaining transports (patients with private insurance) must make up for the shortfall. This system is unsustainable not only for patients, but also for the air medical providers who are struggling to continue care.
A federal solution that updates Medicare reimbursement rates for air ambulances would help ensure that providers can continue saving lives and patients aren’t stuck with surprise bills after the fact. Private insurers must also recognize their responsibility to go in-network with providers so that patients are adequately covered. Lives and livelihoods depend on it.
Save Our Air Medical Resources