Air Ambulance Bills On Tuesday's Legislative Agenda

Jan 9, 2017

Two bills designed to help protect Montanans from unexpected and exorbitant air ambulance bills get their first hearings at the state legislature Tuesday.

One would require air ambulance companies and insurance providers to negotiate payments for air ambulance services, even if the helicopter company is not associated with the patient’s insurance company.

Under another bill, if someone uses an out-of-network air ambulance service, they could not be charged the difference between what the helicopter company charges and their insurance pays out.

The companies could instead opt to take the payment dispute to the state Auditor, Securities and Insurance Commissioner.

Missoula Senator Tom Facey supported preliminary versions of these bills last year:

"I think this is good legislation because nobody like it," Facey said.

The measures are designed to prevent Montanans from getting huge, surprise bills for medical air transport. Those bills can cost tens of thousands of dollars and can land a patient and their families in financial ruin.