On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the West Virginia Governor signed House Bill 2776; the Air Ambulance Patient Protection Act. The following is a statement from Air Methods on the signing of this landmark legislation:

Air Methods thanks West Virginia Governor Jim Justice for protecting the citizens of his state from misleading air medical membership practices by signing House Bill 2776; the Air Ambulance Patient Protection Act.

We applaud the consumer protections this law will provide in West Virginia and commend Delegate Steve Westfall for his leadership in drafting and passing this consumer-focused legislation. Air Methods also thanks HealthNet Aeromedical Services and its President and CEO, Clinton Burley. Without their leadership and support these important consumer protections would never have become law.

This legislation protects West Virginia consumers who have purchased air ambulance membership products and have previously been without recourse to file consumer complaints or seek assistance from the state. This is a responsible decision because these memberships function as supplemental health insurance, over which the State of West Virginia has previously established consumer oversight authority.

In most states, air ambulance memberships are not regulated. This new law is a step in the right direction for protecting citizens from confusing, and sometimes misleading business practices. When a patient has a membership with the air ambulance company that transported them, they must still go through an insurance claims process. What’s more confusing, Medicaid and Medicare Part B beneficiaries have never needed memberships because they are fully covered for air medical services.

But this hasn’t stopped some air medical companies from targeting these populations with marketing campaigns designed not to protect patients, but to make money off their fear. And these companies are more than happy to accept the membership fees, regardless of whether the person is already covered by their insurance.

At Air Methods, we believe memberships are the wrong direction for the industry and the people we care for. We strongly encourage every state to take up similar legislation to safeguard consumers and establish practices that set the air medical industry along the same path as the rest of health care. 

WV HB 2776 Air Ambulance Protection Act

What the Legislation Does:

“The purpose of this bill is to create the Air Ambulance Patient Protection Act and to provide for certain consumer protections for patients of air ambulance services.

This legislation declares that any entity, whether directly or indirectly, who solicits air ambulance membership subscriptions, accepts membership applications, or charges membership fees, is an insurer and shall be licensed and regulated by the Offices of the Insurance Commissioner.”