CROWN POINT | City officials Wednesday approved charging a fee for instances when a city ambulance is called but the victim refuses transport to the hospital.
The Board of Public Works and Safety approved a flat fee of $100 for a city resident and $150 for nonresident for a call in which basic life support services are provided without hospital transport.
Applicable fees for advanced life support services are set by federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, and vary from year to year, said Crown Point Fire Chief Greg DeLor.
Previously, the city charged a fee only in cases where an ambulance call resulted in transport to the hospital.
DeLor said the number of cases is mounting in which residents call for an ambulance for services such as recurrent falls in the home or routine diabetic care.
One address received 40 ambulance calls with not one resulting in transport to the hospital, DeLor said.
The calls were for "things a home health care service should be providing," DeLor said.
City ambulance services and supplies were provided, but without reimbursement, DeLor said.
"We've had times where we had to staff a third and fourth ambulance because our primary ambulances were tied up taking care of somebody who should be taking care of themselves," DeLor said.
Flexibility in applying the fee, especially for a first-time call, was advised by the public works board.
Discretion for determining abuse of the system was left to DeLor and the city billing staff.
Exempted from the fee are cases where someone other than the victim calls for an ambulance on the victim's behalf, and transport is refused.