Save Our Air Medical Resources (S.O.A.R.) is a national campaign dedicated to preserving access to emergency air medical services for Americans across the country.
Why It Matters
This service is a critical element of emergency response, especially for communities living in rural areas where access to trauma care facilities is limited.
With many rural hospitals closing their doors and an aging population, the need for air medical services is growing.
Unfortunately, due to insufficient insurance reimbursement rates, many providers of air medical services are being forced to close bases and wind down operations, leaving rural communities at greater risk. The S.O.A.R. campaign supports efforts at the federal and state level to prevent this from happening. We are dedicated to ensuring that the millions of Americans across the country who rely on air medical resources continue to have access to them. Learn More →
85 million Americans
85 million Americans live more than an hour from a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center if driven by ambulance. Without air medical transport service, these people - 1 in 4 of the population - literally have no way to get to trauma centers within the time-sensitive window for optimizing trauma care.
90 percent of patients who use air medical services are transported because they have suffered serious cardiac event, stroke or trauma. Air medical service extends the reach of hospitals and trauma centers so millions of Americans in rural areas have access to them.
Since 1990, 22% of rural hospitals have closed. Since 2010, those hospitals have closed at a rate of one per month. Today, hundreds more are on the brink of closure. The result is patients must travel farther to get emergency care.
The S.O.A.R. campaign and its partners applaud the introduction this week of H.R. 3378, the Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act, by U.S. Representatives Jackie Walorski (R, IN-02), Suzan DelBene (D, WA-01), Bill Johnson (R, OH-06), Raul Ruiz (D, CA-36), and Pete Sessions (R, TX-32). The proposal is an important step in ensuring that communities across America, particularly in rural parts of the country, have access to life-saving emergency air medical services.
“S.O.A.R. stands in full support of this important bipartisan legislation, which will help bridge the gap between rural and urban communities’ access to emergency care when it’s needed the most,” said S.O.A.R. spokeswoman Carter Johnson. “Today, emergency air medical services are being threatened by low government reimbursement rates, including federal Medicare reimbursement rate that has not been updated in 20 years, resulting in a major reimbursement shortfall. This legislation brings us one step closer to fixing that, and ensuring that all Americans, no matter where they live, can rest assured that they have access to emergency air medical transport if they ever need it.”
Medicare and Medicaid dramatically under-reimburse for air medical services, and the majority (70 percent) of patients who are transported have Medicare or Medicaid, or are uninsured altogether. A recent study shows that Medicare reimburses only 59 percent of the true cost of service. In some states, Medicaid reimburses less than half of the cost of fuel alone for a transport. Repeated extreme under-reimbursement is making it more difficult for air medical bases to remain open, and where they remain, costs are unduly shifted to the 30 percent of patients who have private insurance.
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