Valley AirCare to be grounded by Texas state cuts

Valley AirCare to be grounded by Texas state cuts

24-Aug-2011 Source:

The Rio Grande Valley’s longest-running helicopter ambulance will be permanently grounded this autumn, thanks to Texas state budget cuts.

The South Texas Emergency Care Foundation has operated Valley AirCare since 1995, but operating their AS350B2 in recent years has been an increasing challenge as cost reimbursements continued a downward slide and fuel prices soared.  With 80 to 90% of its patients on federal- and state-subsidized insurance, the state legislators’ decision earlier this year to meet Texas’ budget shortfall by slashing Medicaid rates and altering EMS reimbursements means that operations are no longer viable. An average flight costs Valley AirCare $6,000 to $7,000, and typically 40 to 45% of those costs are recovered, said Rene Perez, the foundation’s director of patient transport services.

Local expections are that Air Evac Lifeteam may fill the void left by Valley AirCare.  The South Texas Emergency Care Foundation will continue to offer ground ambulance services.  We assume that the helicopter will be marketed for sale soon – this is N911VA, a 1996 build AS350B2 with serial 2952

William P Johnson, US correspondent

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