John Larson | El Defensor Chieftain

An agreement with PHI Air Medical reached by the county commission at its January 10 meeting means that all households in Socorro County will be covered for medical airlift flights to Albuquerque.

PHI Air Medical is the air ambulance company that provides a membership-based program to cover the uninsured or otherwise uncovered portion of the flight charges that may be incurred by members requiring emergency air medical transportation.

Socorro County has entered into an agreement with PHI “whereby the Residents within Socorro County will be members of the PHI Cares Program and entitled to receive the privileges and benefits of the PHI Cares Program in accordance with the terms and limitations of this Agreement,” the agreement states.

“The county’s going to cover the cost for every household in Socorro County,” said Michael Hawkes, Socorro County Manager. “So, they’ll be eligible to receive the PHI service during the event that requires it. In other words, the operational cost.”

The medical airlift service has been available in rural Socorro and Catron counties for several years on an individual membership basis.

“Before, you had to individually pay to have it part of the PHI insurance in order for them to airlift you,” Hawkes said. “Now, the county commission has authorized the agreement and paid the premium cost to make sure that all community members still had that service available. It covers the entire county as well as the communities of Magdalena and Socorro.”

The annual fee is based on an expectation of 4,834 households at a rate of $7 per household, which comes out to $33,838 per year paid for by the county government.

There are approximately 16,311 residents living in these households.

PHI Cares Memberships for Socorro County go into effect February 1.