Four government agencies announced in a press release Friday new rules designed to ensure the “highly consolidated” air ambulance industry is compatible with the No Surprises Act, a new medical billing transparency law passed earlier this year.
The announcement comes from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury, as well as the Office of Personnel Management.
“The air ambulance industry is a highly consolidated market that often leads to surprise bills for patients…” said Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. “These rules would allow HHS to collect data to analyze the industry’s market trends and costs and provide critical information that will address exorbitant air ambulance expenses.”
According to the release, the median air ambulance costs around $36,000, and the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that over half of these trips billed to private insurance are out-of-network, resulting in surprise billing.
“The first rule in this series of rulemaking made clear that the No Surprises Act bans surprise bills for patients who use out-of-network air ambulance services and limits the amount they pay out-of-pocket starting next year,” the release explained.
The new proposals also would empower the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to determine enforcement of surprise billing rules at the state level, and to allow that agency to take action against providers if needed.