House Insurance Committee approves LaFave’s air ambulance legislation

LANSING — The House Insurance Committee last week unanimously approved legislation authored by State Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain.

LaFave’s measure requires air ambulance operations to give nonemergency patients a notice to be signed before sending an air ambulance to discuss all methods of transportation and costs. Many times, patients are transported to hospitals by air ambulance without having a say and without knowing the costs.

“A lot of times, Yoopers are airlifted to Green Bay or Milwaukee for surgeries,” said LaFave, who serves on the committee. “All is well when they return home healthy and recovering except for one thing.”

Air ambulance companies currently participate in “balance billing” where the patient’s health care provider will pay for a portion of the bill, but not its entirety. This leaves patients with medical bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.

“Nothing is more devastating to patients and families of patients when that $17,000 medical bill from being airlifted to the hospital shows up at the doorstep,” LaFave said. “My bill will allow nonemergency patients to be informed of the costs of medical transportation before they are transported. If a patient still wants to be transported via helicopter after being informed of the costs – great. But if they want to be transported by a cheaper method such as ground ambulance, they should be able to do so to avoid an extremely high medical bill.”

House Bill 5219 now moves to the full House for consideration.