BISMARCK — North Dakota has filed an appeal seeking to overturn a federal court decision that struck down parts of a law aimed at protecting consumers from astronomical bills for air ambulance services by providers outside their health insurance networks.

The announcement was made Thursday, Feb. 14, by Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread.

The North Dakota Legislature passed a law in 2017 after state insurance regulators received complaints from North Dakota consumers who received "balanced bills" — the remaining balance owed after insurance payments — from air ambulance companies averaging more than $35,000.

The bill aimed to protect consumers with health insurance from receiving balance bills from air ambulances, prohibit air ambulance subscription agreements from being sold and require hospitals to inform patients in non-emergencies about which air ambulances have agreements with the patient's health insurance company.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland rejected the part of the law protecting North Dakotans from receiving the "balance bills," which can leave patients with huge debts.

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"I will continue to fight to protect North Dakotans from the completely unfair practice of air ambulances balance billing individuals with health insurance," Godfread said in a statement. "No one deserves to face financial ruin because of something as out of their control as an air ambulance ride."