This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
The U.S. air ambulance industry is requesting emergency funding of $363.5 million—equivalent to $254,424 per aircraft—from the federal government. The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) formally made the request for funds from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund in a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on April 6.
It cited an up to 40 percent reduction in air medical transports due to the Covid-19 crisis as a result of multiple state stay-at-home and social-distancing orders. Further, the request noted the increased cost of transports that are flown due to the need for crews to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and increased labor costs of up to 50 percent based on heightened aircraft cleaning and decontamination protocols and quarantining of Covid-positive or exposed personnel.
AAMS noted, “Like other segments of the health care industry, air medical providers are incurring significant labor and other cost increases stemming from our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This public health emergency has exacerbated the already precarious economic viability of emergency air providers across the country and threatens the closure of additional air medical bases at a time when this service is acutely needed.” AAMS asked that Medicare Administrative Contractors release the funds directly to air ambulance providers based on their number of licensed air medical aircraft.