Air medical services save lives by delivering timely care to critically injured and acutely ill patients in a way no other service can provide. When patients need critical transport because of life threatening injury or illness and ground transportation is not an option, physicians or first responders will request air medical services who deploy at a moment’s notice.
Nearly one-third of Americans rely on air medical services to reach a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center, but in recent years, patients care has been put at risk as insurers threaten access to air ambulances by paying increasingly less for the services and passing along the remaining costs to transported patients.
As Congress develops legislation to address surprise medical billing and protect patients from the unanticipated costs of care, it is considering legislation that will benefit insurance companies at the expense of patients and air ambulance providers.
If the legislation passes as currently written more bases are at risk of closing, leaving the 90 percent of patients transported from a rural zip code at risk for access to critical care. In the last eight years more than 105 rural hospitals have closed and in 2019 alone more than 30 air bases have closed in the United States putting patients, especially those in rural areas, further from life-saving emergency.