Tester Holds Air Ambulance Companies Accountable to Montanans
Senator: FAA Reauthorization Step in Right Direction; More Work Remains
(U.S. Senate) - U.S. Senator Jon Tester took a step toward reforming the air ambulance industry and lowering the cost of these life-saving flights for rural Montanans.
After introducing legislation to crack down on price gouging in the air ambulance industry, Tester voted for the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, which requires the Transportation Secretary establish an Advisory Committee on Air Ambulance and Patient Billing. This Committee will make recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding charges and fees for air ambulance services and provide better protections for consumers.
"Montanans often find themselves a long way from a hospital, and rely on air ambulances to save their lives," Tester said. "Taking advantage of folks in crisis is wrong. This legislation provides some accountability and oversight to an industry that has had little of both."
The legislation also requires air ambulance providers to regularly report certain data to the Transportation Department, increase transparency related to consumer complaints, and make the Transportation Department's complaint hotline more readily available.
Tester has fought tirelessly for greater oversight of the industry after Montanans were stuck with exorbitantly high bills after receiving life-saving air ambulance care. The average cost of an out-of-network air ambulance flight in Montana is $53,000.
Tester also noted that while the bill is a step in the right direction, there is still work to be done. Specifically he called on Congress to pass his Isla Rose Life Flight Act, which will allow state governments to regulate air ambulance billing and pricing practices to ensure policies are transparent for patients.