Life Flight Network, January 28, 2020 - Aurora, Oregon — Life Flight Network, a not-for-profit air and ground medical transport program serving the western United States, is closing its Rexburg, Idaho rotor-wing base due to declining reimbursement rates.
The base closed January 24, 2020. Life Flight Network will continue to serve eastern Idaho from its other bases in Idaho and Montana. All employees at the Rexburg base have been offered other positions within the company.
Life Flight Network opened the Rexburg base in February of 2015 at the request of fire and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies and hospitals for an additional air medical resource in eastern Idaho.
“We are disappointed to announce the closure of Rexburg, a difficult decision made after a long and careful consideration process,” said Life Flight Network CEO Michael Griffiths.
“Reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid do not cover our expenses and decreasing reimbursement from private insurance companies has put enormous pressure on the air medical transport industry. We have worked hard to overcome these challenges, but current rates have left us with no other choice. Life Flight Network will continue to work with elected officials and commercial insurance companies to improve reimbursement rates and avoid additional difficult decisions like the one announced today.”
Reimbursement rates have become a major issue for the air medical transport industry and the 600,000 patients it serves throughout the country each year. Medicare only covers 50 percent of an air transport cost and in most states, Medicaid covers even less, which places a major financial burden on patients and providers. Moreover, reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid have not been updated in some cases for over 14 years, which has affected privately insured patients who are being charged higher fees, premiums and deductibles to cover the cost.
The federal government’s plan to shift the cost to privately insured patients while failing to address the need to increase Medicare reimbursement has negatively impacted healthcare, resulting in the closure of many hospitals and emergency air bases.
“Our bases are strategically located throughout the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West to provide the highest coverage level possible for the communities we serve. We will partner with other air medical transport providers in the region to minimize any disruption to the community,” continued Griffiths. “We appreciate our EMS agency partners who have loyally partnered with us for the past five years, and we are grateful to Rexburg residents and leaders who welcomed us as a part of the community.”
About LFN: Life Flight Network, a not-for-profit air medical service, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) and the National Accreditation Alliance of Medical Transport Applications (NAAMTA). Life Flight Network is a not-for-profit air medical transport program serving the western United States, including Alaska. Life Flight Network is headquartered in Aurora, Oregon.