To the editor:

With fewer options each year for medical providers in rural Alaska, we need to protect our access to emergency medical transportation.

This is not a time to prioritize or debate a federal benchmark rate — air ambulances are the way to get care fast; that is what matters right now and that is what Congress should focus on. Depending on the patient, getting rapid medical attention can make the difference between life and death.

Senator Lamar Alexander wants to include surprise insurance denial legislation in the next COVID-19 relief package that would gift insurers with the ability to deny coverage of essential medical services, such as air ambulances. Here in Alaska, we rely on air medical services as one of the only life-saving ways to get to a medical facility as fast as possible.

I respect all of the work that Senator Dan Sullivan is doing to keep Alaskans safe during this crisis. Senator Sullivan continuously shows his constituents that he has what’s best at heart for his constituents.

That is why I believe the Senator will oppose the federal benchmark rate that Senator Alexander wants and instead be a champion for rural health access and air ambulance providers in the next COVID-19 relief package.

— Steve Colligan, Wasilla

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