By Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2020

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - An air ambulance company in Wyoming has agreed to an in-network contract with the largest insurer in the state amid concerns over the cost of emergency trips.

Air Methods reached the agreement last week with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming that would provide its members with its care services at discounted in-network rates, the Casper Star-Tribune reported Wednesday.

“This agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming compliments the safe, high-quality care we deliver to patients in a medical emergency,” said Chris Myers, executive vice president of Air Methods. “These agreements are crucial for giving patients peace of mind to focus on their recovery instead of bills.”

The agreement aims to protect residents from balanced billing, when an insurer pays a certain amount for a medical service and leaves the remaining amount for the patient, company officials said.

“The high cost of air ambulance services, coupled with the additional charges from balance billing, has been a significant concern for us and those we insure,” Blue Cross spokeswoman Wendy Curran said. “With the agreement in place, we can offer our members and business clients a lower cost and the security that they will be protected from any future balance billings.”

Policymakers have made multiple efforts to address the issue, including directing the state Health Department to sign a waiver that would have expanded Medicaid to cover air ambulances. The waiver was rejected after Air Methods and two state hospitals opposed the decision.

Additional legislation, which would have allowed individual counties to pick a preferred provider, died in the Senate on Tuesday. U.S. Congress is considering taking action against balanced billing, the Star-Tribune reported.

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