(Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Congressman Doc Hastings recently introduced legislation that will amend the tax code to make it more affordable for companies like Inland Northwest Health Services to purchase new aircraft to transport patients.
“Helicopters and airplanes are often the only lifeline during times of emergency for people in Eastern Washington,” McMorris Rodgers said. “It is important to ensure Northwest MedStar and other air ambulance services have the resources and flexibility to ensure rural patients have the lifesaving care they need.”
The legislation (H.R. 880) amends the tax code to allow tax-exempt bond financing for airplanes that exclusively provide emergency medical services. The current prohibition on using tax-exempt bonds to purchase airplanes was put in place to prevent the use of these bonds for frivolous purposes, such as corporate jets. Using tax-exempt bonds to purchase a corporate jet or an airplane for any purpose other than providing emergency health care would still be prohibited under the new bill.
“Our common sense bill recognizes the unique challenge of providing health care in rural communities,” said Hastings. “This is about making sure patients get the life-saving care they need as quickly as possible, and enhancing air ambulance service is a way to do just that.
Northwest MedStar serves patients in Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Ferry, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Grant, Garfield, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman, and Yakima counties in Washington and in parts of Idaho, Oregon and Montana.
“Providing timely and safe air ambulance services to rural communities in Central and Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Western Montana is the mission of Northwest MedStar,” said Nancy Vorhees, Chief Operating Officer of Inland Northwest Health Services. “We commend Congressman Doc Hastings and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers for sponsoring legislation that would assist with the necessary financing needed to provide upgrades to our fleet of airplanes and maintain this high level of services."