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Posted at 10:52 AM ET, 09/ 4/2010

The case against ambulance fees

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Marcine D. Goodloe
Rockville

Fire and rescue volunteers in Montgomery County strongly oppose ambulance fees. We have freely served Montgomery residents for more than 100 years, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and helping to build strong communities. Ambulance fees are dangerous to the public, will undermine volunteer fire and rescue departments, and will cost residents money.

Emergency medical responders have provided first-hand accounts that ambulance fees of $300 to $800 deter some people from using an ambulance. Surveys show that people are most likely to hesitate to call in cases of a mild heart attack or stroke, situations when people may not recognize the importance of getting immediate treatment to prevent permanent disability or premature death. In addition, we don’t want people driving themselves to a hospital and endangering other drivers in an effort to avoid an ambulance fee.

Volunteers fundamentally object to the county charging for our services, which save county taxpayers at least $20 million annually in labor costs, much more than an ambulance fee would raise. Ambulance fees will weaken if not break the bonds between communities and volunteer departments. Why would the county want to go down that path? What’s next? Billing insurance companies for putting out fires that reduce property damage claims?

In addition, contrary to proponents’ claims, ambulance fees will cost residents, because insurance companies will raise premiums to recover costs.

The Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association submitted a record 52,000 signatures of residents who want to vote on ambulance fees. We are heartened that County Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) has stated that he’ll introduce a bill to repeal the law, if the clearly expressed will of voters is thwarted by ridiculous, disenfranchising signature rules [“To the Montgomery elections board, your legal signature isn’t good enough,” Local Opinions, Aug. 29].

If the courts do not uphold the right in the Maryland Constitution for the people to petition issues to referendum, it will be all the more important which candidates win the upcoming election.

The writer is president of the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | September 4, 2010; 10:52 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Maryland, Montgomery County  
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Comments


You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by calling 877-882-4740 or check http://bit.ly/9fDY7U If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: caryblair | September 4, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

For those of you that read this post! Ask Marcine these questions! First, take a look at the other local jurisdictions that have implemented ambulance billing, Frederick County, Prince George's County, the District of Columbia, etc... take a look at the call statistics for these counties pre and post the implementation of ambulance billing. Have the number of calls to 911 decreased? I ask you to look for yourselves but I will give you a hint, there was no change in those numbers!

Another question to ask Mrs. Goodloe, what is the True percentage of calls that volunteers respond to vs. the career firefighters and could she attach documentation to prove so? As a small measure of proof to each of you, I would invite you to do this, if you happen to stop by a firehouse in Montgomery County to show your children the fire trucks or ask for directions, as the people who come and and greet you if they are volunteers or career.

In closing, I hope that each of you truly read the bill and understand that this will not cost you a dime from your pocket but it most certainly will cost a number of career firefighters their jobs, a job dedicated serving you!

Posted by: cardinallax21 | September 4, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

For those of you that read this post! Ask Marcine these questions! First, take a look at the other local jurisdictions that have implemented ambulance billing, Frederick County, Prince George's County, the District of Columbia, etc... take a look at the call statistics for these counties pre and post the implementation of ambulance billing. Have the number of calls to 911 decreased? I ask you to look for yourselves but I will give you a hint, there was no change in those numbers!

Another question to ask Mrs. Goodloe, what is the True percentage of calls that volunteers respond to vs. the career firefighters and could she attach documentation to prove so? As a small measure of proof to each of you, I would invite you to do this, if you happen to stop by a firehouse in Montgomery County to show your children the fire trucks or ask for directions, as the people who come and and greet you if they are volunteers or career.

In closing, I hope that each of you truly read the bill and understand that this will not cost you a dime from your pocket but it most certainly will cost a number of career firefighters their jobs, a job dedicated to serving you!

Posted by: cardinallax21 | September 4, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

For those of you that read this post! Ask Marcine these questions! First, take a look at the other local jurisdictions that have implemented ambulance billing, Frederick County, Prince George's County, the District of Columbia, etc... take a look at the call statistics for these counties pre and post the implementation of ambulance billing. Have the number of calls to 911 decreased? I ask you to look for yourselves but I will give you a hint, there was no change in those numbers!

Another question to ask Mrs. Goodloe, what is the True percentage of calls that volunteers respond to vs. the career firefighters and could she attach documentation to prove so? As a small measure of proof to each of you, I would invite you to do this, if you happen to stop by a firehouse in Montgomery County to show your children the fire trucks or ask for directions, as the people who come and and greet you if they are volunteers or career.

In closing, I hope that each of you truly read the bill and understand that this will not cost you a dime from your pocket but it most certainly will cost a number of firefighters their careers, a career spent serving you!

Posted by: cardinallax21 | September 4, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Here in Florida, Manatee County charges for EMS services. Blue Cross and other insurers only pay something like 50% of their outrageous fees ($650 & up) and the sick people are supposed to pay the rest, but few can afford to.

In cases like auto accidents, you don't get a choice, either. The cops can and will roll EMS and fire units at the drop of a pinky, and you're stuck.

Blackmail from start to finish. This is what happens when you elect Republicans, as our Alzheimers'-heavy population so often does...

Posted by: roblimo | September 4, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

After reading the opinions of Ms Goodle about Ambulance fees and looking at the opinions of others, I feel that these people are talking about two different things. Ms Goodle says that the fee to be charged for transport services will cost us taxpayers money and endanger lives. They say that insurance companies are going to pay these fees, but I have never seen an insurance company who gave away profits without a fight. The insurances companies always seem to find a way to get their money back from those who have a policy. Montgomery County has a history of good intentions that end up being big losers, like to Inter-County connector “toll road”.

As for the paid firefighter who seems to blame volunteers for the current financial problems of the Fire/Rescue Service in Montgomery County, which by the way is caused mostly by waste and poor management of the paid Fire Chief, I think the citizens of this County should look closer at those who want your money. The Fire Chief who continues to spend and waste money that he does not have, expects the citizens and insurance companies to just pay more and more.

Recently, other public officials foolishly thought that the citizens of their communities would blindly allow them continue to paying themselves huge salaries and wasting taxpayer’s money because no one really new about the abuses. I think it is time to stop trying to take more money from the citizens and look at where all money is going now!

Posted by: EAMS1 | September 4, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Arlen, most of us can save money on our car insurance by making few simple changes find how much you can save http://bit.ly/cHUBop

Posted by: cadynhenry04 | September 5, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by calling 877-882-4740 or check http://bit.ly/9fDY7U If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: cadynhenry04 | September 5, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

I believe that Prince George's County only charges $100. I would not like to see it go up as this could be difficult for some to pay, along with health bills if they're not fully covered by insurance. It would be interesting to see if it changes the number of needless calls to 911 or increases the number of deaths due to people not getting to the hospital on time.

Posted by: JoyceD | September 6, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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