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State regulators approve 65% cost increase to Presbyterian’s ambulance service


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – One of the largest ambulance providers in New Mexico got the green light to increase how much they charge for service- meaning some patients will have to pay more for on-the-spot medical attention.

“Our staff economists worked directly with Albuquerque Ambulance staff to come to a resolution that was reasonable,” said Kacy Dunn, Ambulance and Railroad Bureau Chief for New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission.

The resolution approved by state regulators allows for Presbyterian Healthcare’s ambulance provider to charge 65% more for its services. Previously, for instance, someone would pay $130 for an assessment, without a ride to the hospital. Now, they will pay $214. “As of Friday morning, Albuquerque Ambulance Service can now charge those different rates,” Dunn explained.

The state’s regulation commission says Albuquerque Ambulance Service made a compelling case for why they need the increase—explaining that for the last four years, the service has been operating at a loss. This comes after Presbyterian asked for a 175% increase last year, and a 100% increase earlier this year. Both were denied.

“This is something that is necessary to continue providing this service, but there are going to be, of course, effects to patients,” said Gabriella Rivera, Policy and Communications Director for Health Action New Mexico.

While the cost difference could be covered by insurance, depending on a patient’s plan, some patients will end up footing the bill. “It’s going to be an issue for people,” Rivera added. “People are going to end up in debt over this.Health Action New Mexico is an organization that works with healthcare providers and lawmakers to create accessible healthcare policies. They say even though those on Medicaid will not be affected, uninsured patients and those paying out of pocket for health care will be impacted the most. “Biggest concern we have is that this is going to make people hesitate to use an ambulance,” Rivera said.

Presbyterian Healthcare Services provided this statement:

Albuquerque Ambulance Service (AAS) is the largest and highest-volume provider of emergency 9-1-1 and non-emergency medical services in New Mexico. Like health care organizations across the nation, AAS continues to see higher supply and labor costs. Due to these higher costs, we submitted and received approval from the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) for an increase to our tariff rate, our first since 2014. The increase will allow us to continue to invest in new equipment, provide competitive salaries for staff, and deliver critical care across the state.
AAS is committed to ensuring access to emergency medical services for all New Mexicans without consideration for the patient’s ability to pay. The amount paid by a patient for an ambulance bill depends on the coverage provided by their insurer and we do not anticipate significant changes for patients as a result of this approval.

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Categories: State News