Americans who choose a rural way of life are at risk of losing their access to critical health care. Since 1990, 22 percent of rural hospitals have closed. Since 2010, hospitals have closed at a rate of one per month. Today, more than 600 hospitals across the nation are at risk of a similar fate. This trend is forcing patients to travel farther to get emergency care.
As advanced care facilities get farther and farther apart, the importance of air ambulances drastically rises; according to the Association for Air Medical Services, 75 percent of air medical transports are designated as rural and an air ambulance is often the difference between life and death.
However, the air ambulance industry must contend with extremely low reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid, which currently fall dramatically below the true costs of providing the service. On average, Medicare only reimburses 50 percent of transport costs while Medicaid covers far less (as low as 1/25 of Medicare in some states).
Making matters worse is a bill proposed by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that aims to change 40 years of standardized, federal government regulation by allowing states to individually oversee the medical portion of flights. Though the bill appears to be helpful, it will have negative consequences: air ambulances transporting critically ill or injured patients may no longer be transported across state lines – even if that’s where the closest, appropriate medical facility is located.
It’s more important than ever to make sure the air ambulance industry can continue providing access to a higher level of emergency health care for rural Americans. Please show your support by signing our petition in support of saving rural America’s access to life-saving care.