Cypress Creek EMS weighs in on failed state Senate Bill 999

ambulance
Cypress Creek EMS provides emergency medical services for approximately 177 square miles of North Harris County. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)

Cypress Creek EMS provides emergency medical services for approximately 177 square miles of North Harris County. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)

Texas lawmakers failed to approve a bill that would have eliminated surprise ambulance fees for some residents after the measure stalled in the House of Representatives in the final days of the 87th legislative session.

Senate Bill 999 would have prevented ambulance operators from sending surprise bills to patients who have insurance plans regulated by the state, although some local emergency medical services providers said the legislation would have depleted the revenue they need to operate.

While the bill was aimed at protecting patients, Wren Nealy, CEO of the Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services, said the legislation would have had a detrimental effect on CCEMS’ ability to operate.

“We would not be able to survive and do the things we do,” Nealy said at the agency’s May 26 board of directors meeting. “We would just not be able to do it.”

According to data provided in the Texas Department of Insurance's 2020 biennial report, more than 85% of ground ambulance services and more than 60% of air ambulance services are billed as out of network, meaning individuals are often left responsible for bills totaling hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.


Under SB 999, ambulance service providers would have been required to send bills to insurance companies to mediate the cost of their services instead of sending the bills directly to patients.

“It places the agency in a difficult situation of having to arbitrate or mediate with insurance companies who will only want to pay 125% over Medicare allowable, which is virtually nothing,” Nealy said. “It doesn’t cover us getting to the call, let alone doing anything after we get there.”

Nealy noted that while the bill has failed in its current incarnation, the matter is going to be reviewed by lawmakers until the next legislative session.

“It’s not going to go away,” he said. “It just gave us a two-year reprieve, basically.”


MOST RECENT

The Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce hosted the State of the State luncheon June 10. (Kim Giannetti/Community Impact Newspaper)
State Reps. Harless, Swanson reflect on 87th legislative session bills, events from pandemic to Winter Storm Uri

State Reps. Sam Harless and Valoree Swanson talked ERCOT and criminal justice reform, gun safety, senior living and redistricting at the June 10 Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce's State of the State luncheon.

Taco Bueno sells tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and more unique items, including the Muchaco, a taco made with a soft pita-like shell. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Taco Bueno coming to Katy and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Economist Elliot Eisenberg spoke about the economic recovery post-pandemic, saying this year's GDP growth will be the best since the 1950s. (Brooke Ontiveros/Community Impact Newspaper)
Economist explains housing demand, price booms in Texas, Greater Houston area

Eisenberg explained why home prices are rising at a June 9 Greater Houston Builders Association luncheon.

Officials with the Harris County Justice Administration Department said they identified racial disparities in citations and use of force by law enforcement, among other areas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County identifies racial disparities in use of force, citations from law enforcement agencies

Analysis in the report included racial demographics in instances of consent search, contraband discovery, traffic stops that led to arrests, types of citations or warnings, and use of force.

The Spring ISD board of trustees comprises (from top left to bottom right) Kelly P. Hodges, Winford Adams Jr., Justine Durant, Donald Davis, Jana Gonzales, Rhonda Newhouse and Deborah Jensen. (Courtesy Spring ISD)
Spring ISD proposes 2% increase to staff salaries in 2021-22 budget; district continues exploring virtual academy despite state funding stall

Spring ISD Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks said the 2% salary increase will be recurring and based on the control point, or the midpoint salary, of each position.

Single-family home sales in the Houston area surged 48.2% percent compared to May 2020, when real estate was in the process of recovering from coronavirus-related lockdowns. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Houston-area home sales in May up nearly 50% versus last year

Single-family home sales were up 48.2% compared to a year ago, with 9,702 units sold versus 6,546 a year earlier.

Regal Benders Landing will open for moviegoers June 17. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regal Benders Landing theater announces opening date and features

The theater will celebrate its opening by offering $3 movies until June 23.

Gov. Greg Abbott, center signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 into law June 8 in response to the devastating winter storm last February. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott signs bills to reform ERCOT and weatherize Texas power grid

The bills will go into effect Sept. 1 and aim to reform ERCOT leadership and increase accountability and communication among power agencies.

Harris County is implementing new strategies to increase vaccination rates. (Courtesy Pexels)
Here's how Harris County is attempting to raise vaccination rates

In addition to recently launching a $5,000 scholarship raffle for vaccinated students, county leaders today discussed partnering with a firm to execute targeted community vaccine outreach.

COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more accessible to more age groups. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Where Harris County residents ages 12-17 can receive the COVID-19 vaccine

Children age 12 and older are now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

Lone Star College is reopening its campuses for the fall semester. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College announces reopening for fall semester

Masks will not be required at the campuses, but social distancing and getting vaccinated is encouraged.

Due to increased construction activity, the U.S. is facing a shortage of many building materials. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘The supply channels cannot handle the demand’: Why contractors are experiencing supply shortages

Because of an increased demand for lumber, steel, copper and even appliances, more than 70% of contractors nationwide faced supply shortages in the first quarter of this year.