HONOLULU (KHON2) — An air ambulance company that transports patients from the neighboring islands to Oahu has shut down. That still leaves one company left to provide that service. But health officials are concerned and hope something can be worked out to get the company to stay.
LifeSave Kupono which operates three planes statewide announced that it is shutting down. The parent company Air Methods cites inflation, under reimbursement from Medicare, and the No Surprise Act, which limits what companies can charge, has the reasons.
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In a statement, the company said, “Air Methods conducted extensive financial analysis and explored every option at our disposal for nearly a year but ultimately, determined that keeping these bases open is simply unsustainable.”
“We are working very aggressively to address the information we have received. We’re working to address the situation to ensure that we can move patients around the state as needed,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO.
Raethel said the state’s healthcare agencies and the governor plan to meet with the company on Thursday to find a way to get the company to reconsider.
“We’re having to look at what we’re actually paying right now and the volume of flights and looking at a solution forward,” Raethel said.
Hawaii Life Flight which operates eight aircrafts is now the only air ambulance company in Hawaii. Experts said there are usually about 10 to 25 flights daily so it’s important for these companies to survive.
“We definitely need to make sure that the remaining company stays healthy and remains in the state of Hawaii because there really aren’t any city or state resources that can duplicate this at this time,” said Dr. James Ireland, director of Honolulu Emergency Services Department.
American Medical Response, which operates Hawaii Life Flight, said it plans to hire some of the staff from LifeSave Kupono. And while it is also dealing with the same issues as the company that just shut down, AMR said it should be able to handle the additional load and stay in business despite the challenges.
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“We believe we can stay, we weathered the COVID years, which weren’t easy by any stretch as a company,” said Speedy Bailey, regional manager at AMR.