Aiming to Crack Down on Exorbitant Air Ambulance Costs for Missourians, McCaskill Introduces Legislation
Senator’s legislation would allow states to regulate medical costs of air ambulances, provide consumer protections
WASHINGTON – Aiming to protect Missourians from staggering air ambulance bills, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today introduced legislation to bring greater transparency and consumer protections to the air ambulance industry, and allow states to better regulate medical costs associated with air ambulance services.
“You never plan to be in a situation that requires an air ambulance, but in an emergency, a family doesn’t have time to read the fine print and try to figure out which company is in-network, or if their insurance will actually cover the costs,” McCaskill said. “Air ambulances, while they provide a lifesaving service, are currently operating in a grey area between healthcare and aviation, and have managed to not be held accountable by anyone—and it’s time for that to change. This bill will allow states to properly regulate air ambulance costs, which have skyrocketed in the last decade, and give consumers much-needed protections.”
McCaskill’s Air Ambulance Consumer Protection Act would clarify that states are not prohibited by theAirline Deregulation Act of 1978 from regulating the medical costs associated with air ambulance service. Additionally, McCaskill’s legislation would provide consumers with a complaint hotline that commercial aviation customers have, as well as establish an advisory committee to produce recommendations for the industry, including greater transparency in billing practices, new consumer protections, and clear guidance for State insurance commissioners on how to dispute unfair or deceptive industry practices on behalf of consumers.
Following recent reports of families left with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills from air ambulance services after a traumatic injury—of which health insurance companies sometimes only cover a fraction of the costs—McCaskill requested documents and demanded answers from the leading insurance providers and air ambulance companies in Missouri to better understand industry practices and the impacts they have on Missouri consumers.
McCaskill has made tackling rising healthcare and prescription drug costs a top priority in the Senate. She has called for a full review of the actions by health insurer Anthem to deny emergency room coverage for Missourians’ care that is deemed non-emergent—a potential violation of consumers’ rights and federal law, beginning last year after the insurance company announced it would no longer cover emergency room costs for Missourians if that care is deemed non-emergent.
Full text of the bill HERE.