California Assembly Bill 1153—a bill that would take $3 from traffic fines to support air ambulance services—has passed through the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. AOPA supports the bill not just because it supports air ambulance services, but also because it highlights the importance of air ambulance and emergency medical services as an important aspect of general aviation.
The bill states that “air ambulance services play a key role in the statewide emergency medical services system, including disaster response and homeland security, so it is important for California to support these vital services.” .
One important public benefit of air ambulance service is that all patients are given the same high level of care—even if they don’t have medical insurance. The bill is especially important because emergency air ambulance providers cover multiple counties within a 100-mile radius of their bases. As a result, their transports often originate in a county other than where they are based. This makes it virtually impossible for them to be funded by local tax support—except in the largest of counties. Moreover, fees collected from a portion of traffic fines would help offset the absence of federal funding for providing services to high numbers of indigent patients pursuant to California’s disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program under the Medi-Cal program.
Air ambulance services and other medical flights have been highlighted in AOPA’s GA Serves America Campaign as an important facet of GA—and one example of GA’s importance to citizens and communities.
“General aviation is a critical element of emergency medical services across the nation,” said AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro. “Without the fast, point-to-point transportation of patients, many more lives would be lost each year.”
The next stop for this legislation is the Committee on Appropriations. No vote or hearing has been scheduled as of yet.