MoCo Ambulance Fee Gains Traction with Council
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett's proposed ambulance transport fee appeared to be gaining some traction yesterday afternoon with two of three members of the County Council's Public Safety Commitee, which will have the first word on the measure before it reaches the full council.
The Council has been inundated with more than 900 calls in opposition to the fee that would raise revenue for emergency services. Opponents argue that the fee would deter residents from calling 911.
But both Don Praisner (D-Eastern County) and Marc Elrich (D-At-Large) yesterday suggested that they weren't buying that argument.
"Trying to prove whether a fee prevents a person from calling or not is irrelevant," Praisner said. "Whether you pay or you don't pay, if a person needs an ambulance, they are going to call."
Elrich said residents without health insurance "are afraid of calling period. I don't think the fee is a detriment."
Leggett and supporters stress that the legislation is designed to bill health insurance companies - not residents - and that uninsured residents will not be charged.
Opposition has been led by the county's well-organized volunteer firefighters, who believe a fee for service is at odds with their core mission. The committee's chairman Phil Andrews (D-Rockville-Gaithersburg) also opposes the measure.
Separately, the county's Fire and Rescue Commission - whose members are appointed by the county executive - voted 4 to 3 earlier in the week to oppose the ambulance fee.
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