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MoCo Ambulance Fee Finds Surprising Support

The rock solid opposition from Montgomery County's volunteer firefighters to a proposed ambulance fee appears to have some cracks.

Glen Echo Fire Department's volunteers are urging council members to support the fee, which County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) says is necessary to ensure that emergency services meet demands from the growing population.

Jeffrey Hearle, the chief administrative officer, said in a letter today that without the fee, he worries the county would not have the money to maintain existing ambulance service and that it would take more time to respond to emergencies.

"We are here to serve our constituents - not other departments or interest groups," he wrote. "Our residents deserve guaranteed staffing and an ambulance from our station. We are confident that citizens clearly see the merits of our argument."

The position is at odds with the leaders of the main volunteer organization, who disagree with the idea of charging for a service that its members provide for free.

Council members shelved the proposal earlier this month when confronted with opposition from residents. But Leggett is pressing to revive the fee, which he says is designed to charge insurance companies - not residents.

By Ann Marimow  |  November 6, 2008; 2:46 PM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow , Montgomery County  
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"But Leggett is pressing to revive the fee, which he says is designed to charge insurance companies - not residents."

So who pays the insurance cost? I can see assessing a fee (even if the volunteer time is free, the cost of vehicles, fuel, building, uniforms, equipment, etc... is not), but trying to hide it as an insurance cost rather than what it really is does not fool anyone.

Posted by: jim_maryland | November 7, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

My MIL was in a nursing home in DC where an ambulance ride was $500, un-reimbursed.

The nursing homes' first response to everything was to call an ambulance and send her to the ER. More than once we stepped in and took her there ourselves or suggested nixed an un-necessary trip. There is very little in the way of cost containment in the Medicare world. If an ambulance fee can help with that then I say impose it.

Ambulance fees will change behavior and people will make an effort to get alternative transportation if they are imposed.

Since those vehicles get about 8mph they are not free and a fee is a reasonable way to ration their use.

Posted by: RedBird27 | November 10, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

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