Ending the practice of surprise billing is a welcome development, not just for the air ambulance industry and its customers but the healthcare industry itself. Now, it has come to light that the Florida House has passed a bill aims to end this practice. The bill was passed on February 20, 2020, with a resounding majority through 117 yeas and 0 nays. The bill – HB747 – got its sponsorship from Republican Representative Jayer Williamson. The intent behind the bill seems quite good, but how it seeks to see the day of light is not so encouraging, especially for the air ambulance industry and the patients.
Onus Limited to Air Ambulance Industry
When insurance companies refuse to reimburse the claim amounts, the only recourse left with the air ambulance industry is approaching the patients. While this practice has widely been called surprise billing, it has been the last resort for medical flight companies. In this context, it must be understood that the reimbursement rates have not been revised for several years now, while the cost of maintaining medical flight services has been on a rise and does not seem to relent. It has been among the primary reasons why air ambulance companies are increasingly exiting rural markets.
What Will Happen Next?
It is unlikely that the bill, which is yet to pass through the Senate, will get through when we consider that historically many states have failed to regulate the air ambulance industry. However, if it does go through, it would be reasonable to expect several medical flight companies shutting operations, especially when it comes to rural America. At present, medical flights fill the healthcare void created by the shutting down of rural hospitals, which has been an ongoing trend for about a decade.