For far too long, air ambulance companies were allowed to exploit the U.S. health care system to unfairly profit from patients who needed essential medical services. The No Surprises Act changed that, putting into place protections to ensure patients who need emergency medical transport do not face financial hardships because of a surprise out-of-network bill.
Unfortunately, certain air ambulance companies are now fighting through a newly launched lawsuit in Texas to dismantle essential safeguards that protect consumers from unexpected bills. This is the seventh lawsuit filed to weaken the consumer protections made possible by the No Surprises Act. As these lawsuits continue to target the protections in the No Surprises Act, it is critical we remember the real impacts surprise bills have on American patients.
When Christian Bolling needed emergency transport to the hospital, he was taken by air ambulance. After receiving care, the company billed his family $36,000, which was more than the total of his two-day hospitalization. Unfortunately, the Bolling’s story is one in a long line of patients who were taken advantage of by air ambulance companies before the No Surprises Act went into effect.
As Loren Adler explains, the size of balance bills issued by air ambulance carriers, particularly those backed by private-equity groups, grew more than 50% between 2014 and 2017, resulting in average bills of $26,507 in 2017. These costs were dumped onto unsuspecting patients who faced high-cost bills while recovering from medical emergencies.
Price gouging by air ambulance companies is unacceptable. The No Surprises Act was carefully designed – and supported – by Republicans and Democrats to ensure patients are not burdened by expensive, out-of-network medical bills. It is critical the No Surprises Act be implemented in full, and the lawsuits driven by private-equity backed providers do not take precedent over patient needs.