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  • Writer's pictureMAGA Louisiana

Letters To MAGA: Rural Communities Rely on Air Medical Services for Medical Attention

This article was written by MAGA Louisiana fan and Medical Sales Representative, Shane Benedetto from Harahan, Louisiana. If you would like a letter to the editor posted, message us on Facebook - @MAGAlouisiana!

Access to healthcare is dwindling in Louisiana, and it is leaving patients vulnerable. More than a hundred of hospitals across the country, including right here in our state, are closing in less populated regions, forcing patients into traveling longer distances for medical attention. Unfortunately, this means patients are paying more for transportation and taking potentially valuable time out of their days—which could be better spent enjoying time with family, working, or participating in activities. But, for those faced with a critical condition or emergency medical situation, long distances and long car rides are simply not an option.

Though many may not realize it, air ambulances are critical to our state, especially in our many rural communities. Louisiana covers 43,562 square miles, and of our 4.6 million residents, 750,000 are in rural areas. These people need assurance that they have as much access to emergency care as someone living in Baton Rouge or New Orleans. If an emergency were to ever occur, and a patient needed to reach a Trauma 1 or Trauma 2 hospital center in a finite amount of time, being medevacked is the best, if not only option.

Trauma 1 and Trauma 2 hospitals, which are typically located in more urban, populated areas, are best equipped for emergency situations. Whether treating a tragic car accident, or a traumatic injury, these facilities have 24-hour surgeons and are able to provide definitive care for all injured patients. Given the distance to these hospitals, air ambulances are the only way to transport rural patients with emergency needs.

Even beyond the ability to bypass traffic and extremely long distances, air ambulances have trained medical staff on board and sophisticated equipment to help stabilize patients. Right now, however, air medical ambulances are under threat. Insurance companies are refusing to cover these life-saving services and providers are beginning to shut down. This is bad news for the healthcare industry and the patients it services.

As a medical sales representative, I work with a number of hospitals and medical facilities throughout the state. It is common knowledge amongst sales representatives, doctors, nurses, and administrators in the medical field that the use of an air ambulance can be the determining factor between life and death. However, even with our near unanimous support for them, they are becoming less and less available. That is why I am highlighting the issue for Congress to act.  There has to be a solution that will fill in the gaps when insurance companies deny paying for individuals’ air ambulances. Those in rural regions cannot afford to lose this indispensable emergency care service.

Representative Steve Scalise has been a consistent champion for health care access and affordability in Louisiana, and I have always admired his unwavering support of his constituents. As the health care debate continues in Washington, I hope we will all support Whip Scalise and efforts to protect rural health care. Only then will sufficient access to care for all Louisianians, including air ambulances, be available to patients in need.

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