Air ambulance memberships back in the legislature

Fremont County Senators Cale Case and Tim Salazar along with Park County Representative Dan Laursen have sponsored SF0046 – Air ambulance memberships-regulation and disclosures for the 2021 legislature session.

This new bill aims to reverse HB0194 which imposed regulations on air ambulance providers who sold memberships – prohibiting those sales unless they became licensed to sell disability insurance. HB0194 passed in the 2019 legislature and became effective April 1st, 2020.

Last year, County 10 caught up with two Fremont County air ambulance providers, Classic Air Medical and AirMedCare Network, to discuss their future of membership selling.

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“We would have to become an insurance company to continue selling memberships, and it’s not feasible for us to do that,” Classic Air Medical Director of Customer Relations Chad Bowdre shared.

AirMedCare Network, which operates Guardian locally, also stated they “would not become a licensed disability insurer.”

Following County 10’s post last year about air ambulance providers no longer able to sell memberships without insurance licensing, we heard from several legislators and the Wyoming Department of Insurance who wanted to share their reasoning and perspective on why HB0194 was passed.

Common themes that came up during those conversations included: regulations and consumer protection; the amount of time, since the law passed, air ambulance service providers had to file for insurance licensing; and the fact that one company Medical Air Services Association (MASA) complied with the new law – they have already done this in other states.

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Case and Salazar shared in a joint press release last year that they would put forth legislation to bring the air ambulance membership back again – which they have now done with SF0046.

This new bill is meant to undo HB0194; so Wyoming residents can indeed purchase memberships like before, Case shared with County 10.

He also added, the new bill does include a clarified disclosure portion. This aims to make sure air ambulance companies selling memberships make it clear to consumers they are not purchasing insurance.

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On the new legislation, Salazar noted, “one of the reasons I’m co-sponsoring SF0046 is because the air ambulance membership is incredibly important to our rural folks in Fremont County. Air ambulance membership is vital to so many people who need that service in time of emergency and that is why Senator Case and I are bringing this forward to help our constituents in Fremont county to receive as they had before.”

This week, during the Fremont County Commissioners’ meeting, Harold Albright and Margaret Wells of the Upper Wind River Ambulance Association asked the Commissioners to support SF0046. Citing most of the folks in their area, Dubois and Crowheart, rely heavily on air ambulance in medical emergencies due to their remoteness.

SF0046 is slated to go before the Wyoming Legislature when they reconvene in March. Click here to learn more about the bill.

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