CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Natrona County Sen. Charles Scott gave an impassioned plea regarding healthcare to his fellow senators during the morning floor session on Thursday, Feb. 13.
It’s not the first time he’s discussed this topic, specifically, the mounting costs of air ambulance services all over the country.
“This is the next chapter in our ongoing struggle to get the problem we have with air ambulance costs under control,” Scott told the senators. “We’re seeing severe problems where people are getting outrageous bills for these services. I’m hearing about examples where a person got a bill for $100,000 for one transport.”
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SF 115 would allow various governing entities to contract out for air ambulance services; require the state employees and officials’ group insurance plan to offer air ambulance services upon federal approval; place air ambulance provisions in Medicaid statutes upon federal approval; and would require a legislative study on all of these prerequisites.
A bill that would have Medicaid cover air ambulance service costs was introduced in the Wyoming House of Representatives last year during the general session. It was signed by Gov. Mark Gordon in March 2019.
Scott pointed out during his introduction of the bill that one of the reasons for rising air ambulance costs is the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which prohibits states from regulating the price, route or service of an air carrier for the purposes of keeping national commercial air travel competitive.
“That act assumes people have a choice, but when you have someone who’s laying on the side of the road bleeding out or suffering from a heart attack, there’s no real choice in using an air ambulance,” he told the senators.
Scott specifically discussed the possibility of contracting for air ambulance services with private companies, suggesting that this could be a route for cutting costs.
The bill is co-sponsored by Scott and Rep. Eric Barlow.
The bill was mostly supported by the Wyoming Senate, receiving 20 “ayes,” both from Scott and Natrona County Sen. Bill Landen, and nine “nos,” including from Sens. Lynn Hutchings and Anthony Bouchard. The bill will now go to the Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, which meets again Friday, Feb. 14.
“This isn’t the last word,” Scott said. “This is part of an ongoing saga. This is just a step forward.”
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