Access to affordable and reliable medical services is key to any conversation surrounding health care in 2019. With a rise of rural hospital closures, the care Louisianans rely on is moving further away from them each year.
Knowing that, is it concerning that Congress is considering legislation that could actually further limit access to quality, lifesaving services. The Lower Health Care Costs Act being considered in Washington does more harm than good when it comes to our health care system.
At first glance, the Lower Health Care Costs Act addresses a critical problem: surprise billing. When a patient uses a service like an air ambulance, there are situations where insurers do not cover the costs, sometimes leaving patients with an unexpected, hefty medical bill. I think we can all agree that is a practice that should cease.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to address this issue, the current proposal makes the challenge of providing rural health care worse. By setting a rate of reimbursement, the legislationdiscourages fair in-network agreement between insurers and air ambulance companies. Left without the funds needed to cover their operating costs, air ambulances would like close. A patientmight avoid a bill, but they will also lose access the emergency health care they rely on in the direst situations.
This is not a tradeoff we should have to make. Let’s find a solution that protects patients from surprise bills and protects their access to quality health care.
Quin Bates - Retired Chemical Plant Manager