Aeromed medical helicopter service has been suspended in Puerto Rico. According to Aeromed, the territory had not paid for its services in 18 months, racking up a debt of $4.6 million. Aeromed forgave most of that debt, charging only $1.4 million for a total of 262 flights and offering a payment plan, but its bills remain unpaid.
“There is no way that we can continue to operate and we have exhausted all administrative remedies,” says José a. Hernández II, the Director of Aeromed.
Aeromed has transported some 13,000 emergency medical cases in Puerto Rico over the past two decades. They received accreditation from the National Accreditation Alliance of Medical Transport Applications (NAAMTA) earlier this year.
This is not the first time Puerto Rico has been without emergency medical transport services. In 2010, after two months without payment, Aeromed had to cut off the government’s credit. At that point, they were owed $600,000, and the struggling company was finding it difficult to stay in service.
For the past year and a half, Aeromed, now in a stronger position, has carried the government’s debt. However, they have announced that they will no longer do so, and they will end services to government agencies until a payment plan is worked out. According to Univision, Health Secretary Ana Rius claims that this will not affect air ambulance service in Puerto Rico. The government has announced plans to rely on helicopter from Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) until regular service can be resumed.
The cash-strapped territorial government recently announced a plan to increase medical tourism in hopes of bringing in new sources of revenue.