Local air medical company working with legislators on 'surprise billing' laws

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Air medical companies are expressing concern over new legislation that would address "surprise billing" of patients, including patients who have been advised to use a medical helicopter, only to find out after the fact that their insurance won't cover the bill.

PHI Air Medical runs PHI AirMed 12, the medical helicopter team out of CHI St. Joseph Health in Bryan.

"This issue is more accurately a surprise lack of insurance coverage for a medical emergency," PHI Air Medical released in a statement.

Another air medical company, AirEvac LifeTeam, says that this legislation that would end "balance billing" would compromise their ability to provide air medical services.

"The balance bill is a result of the insurance company not paying for the full charges or cost for the service that was provided, even though it was ordered by [a medical professional or first responder]," said Seth Myers, president of AirEvac LifeTeam.

Not everyone agrees with this assessment, including insurance company representatives that say this legislation would limit "bad actors" in the air medical field. (See Related Links.)

But representatives with PHI Air Medical say it would limit instead their ability to do their jobs and service rural areas in particular.

"We believe that a fairer and more reasonable solution can be found by the {collection of both insurer and air ambulance provider data, and are working with representatives to ensure legislation doesn't compromise access to air ambulance services, particularly in rural settings like Bryan-College Station," the PHI Air Medical statement reads.

The legislation would change the system somewhat, removing the patient from the arbitration process, something both PHI Air Medical and AirEvac support.

"We agree and support legislation that takes the patient out of the middle of this issue," PHI Air Medical stated.

For the full conversation, see the video player above.