- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on air ambulance legislation before the Montana House (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

The Montana House has voted to approve four measures meant to keep patients’ air ambulance bills in check.

A fifth bill is being heard in the House Human Services Committee Wednesday afternoon.

The House gave final approval to a measure that would require patients to only pay for co-insurance and co-payments. Air ambulance companies and insurers would have to resolve billing disputes through mediation or in court.

Representatives also passed a bill prohibiting air ambulance companies from filing incomplete payment reports about patients to credit reporting services.

The House also agreed with Senate amendments on a bill to regulate air ambulance memberships as insurance products, and endorsed a resolution urging Congress to address air ambulance billing issues.

The House committee is considering a bill that would tax air ambulance providers that charge a certain amount above allowable Medicare costs.

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10:20 a.m.

Montana lawmakers are taking action on multiple measures meant to keep patients from receiving whopping air ambulance bills.

Four measures are on the House floor Wednesday and one is being heard later in the day in the House Human Services Committee.

All are in response to complaints by Montana residents who were charged tens of thousands of dollars for emergency flights because their insurance didn’t cover the out-of-network costs.

Justin Dillingham is the chief customer officer for Life Flight Network, an Oregon-based air ambulance provider. He says the bills that Montana lawmakers are considering are pre-empted by federal law and would be struck down in court.

Republican Sen. Gordon Vance of Belgrade told a legislative panel Tuesday that air ambulance companies and insurers are already making agreements for in-network coverage as a result of the legislation.

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