Council mulls some EMS feesPublished 4:26pm Thursday, February 14, 2013
Washington’s City Council wants more information before it acts on a request to change some fees related to city-provided emergency-medical services.
The council discussed the proposed changes during its meeting Monday.
The request including adding an advanced-life-support II fee (emergency transport) of $755.39, which the city does not charge currently. The request also seeks to increase the loaded mileage transport fee from $13 a mile to $14 a mile. The proposed changes were recommend by EMS Management & Consultants, the company advising the city on such matters.
Councilman Doug Mercer expressed concerns about the proposed changes, including how they could financially affect the many elderly people who use city-provided EMS.
Mercer said Medicare would pay $401 toward transporting (ALS) someone to the hospital. The city currently charges $550 for that service. The proposed change would reduce that fee to $521.90.
“There are many, many of our citizens who are getting by on Medicare. If Medicare pays the $401, I don’t see that we should be dunning that individual for that additional $120 when they have no means of paying it,” Mercer said.
“I just have real concerns when we are hitting our elderly population who are already living on what I consider a very minimal income to begin with and hit them with a bill like this,” Mercer said moments later.
Councilman Bobby Roberson said “unfortunately someone has to pay, either the individual to the city through Medicare or the City of Washington.”
City Manager Josh Kay suggested the issue be tabled until more information about it could be gathered for the council.
“The thing that concerns me most of all is we haven’t been charging ALS level II emergency transport. We haven’t been charging anything, and yet we’re proposing $755.39. To me, that is a drastic change,” Roberson said. “If we haven’t been charging anything … that’s a big change. I’m not advocating we don’t charge people, but that’s a big change.”