The sooner a stroke patient can access care and treatment, the better their chances of survival and recovery. A recent study by Rush University Medical Center found that stroke patients who are transferred to a hospital by air ambulance were able to receive surgery significantly sooner, thus providing them the best chances at recovering from their stroke.

Despite the life-saving care and transport air medical services provide, their ability to continue operating is under threat. Seventy percent of patients transported by these services are either covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or have no insurance.

Unfortunately, these government reimbursement rates don’t reflect today’s true cost of care. To continue operating, air medical service costs shift to private insurers to make up the difference, but despite their ability to pay, some insurers continue to refuse to go in-network or will arbitrarily deny coverage.

Congress must address surprise billing issues, but the proposed Lower Health Care Costs Act further threatens air medical operations and the emergency care they provide. Section 105 of this legislation would allow insurers to pay air medical providers even lower rates than they currently do.

This would mean increased base closures – 35 have already shuttered this year - and longer transport times for stroke patients, which would severely impact their outcomes. Congress must do right by stroke patients and reject this proposed legislation in favor of a better solution to surprise bills. Millions of lives depend on it.

Carter Johnson

Save Our Air Medical Resources campaign

Washington, D.C.

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