HELENA (AP) – The Montana House has endorsed a bill that would prevent patients from receiving huge bills from air ambulance providers that are not in-network with their insurance plans.

Representatives voted 95-4 Monday in favor of Senate Bill 44 on second reading. It now goes to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Under the bill, air ambulance patients would have to pay their co-payments and co-insurance costs and their insurer must pay the amount they would pay an in-network provider for the same service.

Any further price dispute would be handled between the insurer and the air ambulance company, via mediation or by taking it to court. Both sides would be responsible for their own legal fees.

Federal law prohibits states from regulating the routes, fares and services of airlines. States have struggled to help patients with high air ambulance costs.

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