Last night, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt ran a segment on ambulance balance billing. Although provided with a brief one-paragraph statement in advance, they chose to use less than one sentence of it during the broadcast. We have reproduced our original statement below to provide additional context.
For a better understanding of the forces driving the costs behind ambulance care, please see this recent longer media response by American Ambulance Association President Mark Postma.
Original Statement Provided by American Ambulance Association
Emailed to Eric Salzman on January 28, 2018 | Very brief due to TV news format
Ambulance providers, both private and public, serve their communities with lifesaving on-demand mobile healthcare 24/7, regardless of patients’ ability to pay. Ambulance services are saddled with a high cost of readiness as they keep certified personnel, sophisticated technology, and costly medications ready round-the-clock. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance often reimburse ambulance services at rates below the costs of providing this care, endangering their ability to continue serving families in their time of extreme need. Ambulance services bill patients as a last resort: This necessity is driven by a complex combination of rising patient deductibles, reduced insurance coverage, and unfair contractual negotiation techniques employed by insurers that leave patients with uncovered balances. Like most issues in our healthcare landscape, there are no quick fixes for these challenges. However, as dedicated healthcare professionals, we welcome ongoing public dialogue about how to bring sustainable reimbursement to ambulance providers in order to reduce cost-shifting to patients.