Bill which would establish a task force to study costs of air ambulance services passes House committee

03/16/2016 01:09 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would call for a study to be done in the interim of charges billed by all air ambulance providers licensed and operating in the state, as well as similar services in surrounding states was unanimously passed by the House Standing Committee on Banking and Insurance on Wednesday.

House Bill 273, sponsored by Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, came about after a constituent of McKee’s was transported to the hospital via air ambulance after a fall, but it was an unexpected bill for thousands of dollars not covered by insurance which really knocked him off his feet.

McKee says having more information about emergency care transportation may have allowed the individual to avoid the high cost.

“I have learned in looking at it that certain air ambulance companies provide a subscription service for perhaps as little as $50 a year, that you can have coverage to know if you need to be transported, the full cost would be paid,” McKee said. “As we move forward, I think we’re going to learn a lot more to at least inform people.”

McKee made it clear that his bill is not an attack on emergency air transportation services, but rather a process that will make the public aware of just what they can expect if they use the service.

“It would seem like a huge charge for a half-hour ride but those air ambulance companies have to keep people on duty and have to have a full crew ready to go at a moment’s notice,” McKee said. “But, I think as citizens, we all need to know where we are in regard to being transported and things like we’ve learned, a subscription service could be available.”

Rep. Bart Rowland, R-Tompkinsville, says that he’s all for transparency when looking at the charges levied by the air ambulance services and how they are in-line with what is charged in surrounding states.

“I don’t think we have enough information yet to know whether some of those charges are justified or not,” Rowland said. “Setting up this task force is the best way to go about it.”

Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, says the task force not only needs to look at the charges but the net cost for services provided by the air ambulance companies.

“It’s nice to know what the cost is, $40,000, but if it only costs them $8,000 to do it,” Riggs said. “So we have to learn more than just what the average retail cost is, we have to also learn more about what the profit margin is.”


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