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Wyoming has come up with a unique way to make air ambulances — a common source of huge surprise medical bills — more affordable, according to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute's blog.

The big picture: The state is essentially proposing to turn air ambulances into a public utility after its health department has put together a Medicaid waiver that would make all residents, regardless of their income, eligible for Medicaid coverage of air ambulance services.

  • Providers would submit bids to serve as the only air ambulance operator within a particular geographic region.
  • The state would make flat payments to the operator that wins the bid, rather than paying them for each ambulance ride.
  • Patients' cost-sharing would vary based on their income, and insurers would pay into the program rather than covering air ambulances themselves.

What we're watching: To go into effect, the proposal first has to be approved by CMS. State lawmakers would then have to make the necessary policy changes.

Yes, but: The blog's author, Sabrina Corlette, correctly warns that "both federal officials and state lawmakers will likely be lobbied extensively by the air ambulance industry, which has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo."

Go deeper: Behind air ambulances' astronomical charges

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Biden reviews U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Trump supporter found with pipe bombs accused of plot to attack Democrats

Five improvised explosive devices that the FBI says "were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly." Photo: FBI/Justice Department

The FBI believes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Bay Area headquarters of Twitter and Facebook were targets of a man facing federal explosives charges, according to a criminal complaint.

Driving the news: Prosecutors charged Ian Benjamin Rogers after finding weapons including five pipe bombs, 49 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition following a Jan. 15 search of his Napa County home and auto repair business. His alleged goal was to ensure former President Trump remained in office.

6 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."