REACH Air Medical provides communities with air ambulance helicopters and airplanes. They fly critically injured and ill patients from either a scene of an accident or a smaller hospital, to wherever they need to go. Director of Business Strategy Don Wharton says providing those types of services can be expensive when balance billing is being implemented.

“What that means is when a patient receives care, and that is not just from us, it could be from a hospital, whatever portion your primary health insurance does not cover, there tends to be a remaining balance and that is what references balance billing,” said Wharton. “That remaining balance would be the responsibility of the patient to pay for.”

According to Wharton, reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid has not kept pace with rise in costs to deliver this type of business. He explains how the passing of Senate Bill 44 should help Montanans.

“It essentially takes the patient out of the middle of us as the provider and the insurance company, which ever one that might be,” Wharton said. “If there is a dispute over a balance bill, it leaves that discussion or topic between provider and payer. It really holds the patients harmless.”

Wharton says Montana is one of the lowest commercially reimbursed states in the union, but that the passing of this bill should lead to significant change.