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Ambulance providers fear statehouse bill could put them out of business

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- A bill under consideration by state lawmakers aims to cut down on surprise medical costs.

But ambulance providers say some of the wording in the bill could ultimately put them out of business.

No one likes medical bills, including after a ride in an ambulance.

And a measure that passed the state house and now heads to the senate is designed to cut down on surprise medical bills.

It includes a provision that if an ambulance takes someone to a hospital that's in-network for that patient's insurance company, it limits how much the ambulance company can bill for that service.

"We try to keep our rates as low as possible for all of our residents, all of our patients, and by signing with a particular insurance company or insurance companies simply causes cost shifts to those who don't have those insurance companies," Gary Booher says.

Booher is the executive director of the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority and says in the end, the proposal will cause more harm than good.

He says like any other business, ambulance providers have to function, have to purchase supplies, keep ambulances running, and staff them.

"We don't want patients to have to pay any more than they have to. That's not at all what this fight is for. It's basically trying to get the insurance companies to understand that we need to survive," Capt. Tyler Burns of Washington Township EMS says.

He says this bill to lower payments could unintentionally shut ambulance providers down.

"We're struggling to get volunteers, as a lot of people may or may not know, so in the chance that we have to get rid of paid staff, our fear is that we would have to close down," he says.

He says the ones with the deepest pockets should shoulder the cost burden.

"The insurance companies are ultimately the ones that pay the most money and this bill would essentially allow the insurance companies to pay as little as possible, which in turn could cause departments statewide to close down," Burns says.

A committee in the state senate is scheduled for a hearing on the bill Wednesday, and Booher says he will be there to testify about it.

Republican State Representative Martin Carbaugh of Fort Wayne authored the bill but was not available to comment.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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