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Medicaid Covering Hospital Air Ambulances? No Way (Guest: Evan Blauser)

September 11, 2019

The Heartland Institute's health care policy advisor Sarah Lee interviews Evan Blauser of the Wyoming Liberty Group on the state's plan to use Medicaid to fund the exorbitant costs of air ambulance services.

Wyoming has decided to seek federal approval to use Medicaid funding to intrude into the private air ambulance marketplace, potentially pick a single air ambulance provider to contract with the state, and offset the very high costs of a very niche health care industry the state relies on.

Evan Blauser of the Wyoming Liberty Group, the state's free market think tank, joins The Heartland Institute's Health Care News podcast to discuss why the cost of air ambulance services are so high, why using Medicaid — a program originally intended to help the seriously ill and indigent — to fund the industry is intrusive and disruptive, and what other solutions might be available to solve the growing price tag of air ambulance flights.

Blauser notes, for example, that Wyoming has not expanded Medicaid and so using Medicaid funds to pay for even a single flight could cut into Medicaid availability for several families who are not otherwise covered. Further, he says  most flights are to transport patients from rural areas in to more urban areas for medical help. Blauser says there are better ways to address this problem, such as incentivizing doctors to open practices in rural areas, something he says Medicaid actually discourages.

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Sarah Lee is a policy advisor for health care and a host of Heartland's Health Care News podcast.