The Huntsville Item: Rural Texans fight for access to health care

By Mike Easley, Texas Rural Health Association

The economics of delivering high-quality health care to rural parts of Texas with sparse population is very challenging. We know this. And it’s in spite of the efforts of hard-working communities to make these services available. Since 1990, many hospitals across the country have closed their doors. And rural parts of the nation — including many areas in Texas — have borne the brunt of this loss. 

If a hospital closes, the patients they once served are farther away from the critical care facilities they need at a life or death moment. Fortunately, air medical transport helps bridge the gap. One in four Americans, that’s 85 million of us, can only reach a Level I or Level II trauma center within one hour if we are transported by a helicopter. 

Trauma physicians will tell you one of the greatest determining factors for successful treatment of a life threatening situation is how quickly the patient is transported. Emergency air medical helicopters provide critical care and transportation by highly-trained personnel quickly. This gives the patient a greater chance of survival.

Fixing the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates will go a long way to giving Texans peace of mind knowing that their air medical transport helicopters will keep flying and keep saving lives.