Area EMS officials consider ambulance fee hikes

2013-07-27T19:32:00Z 2013-09-05T20:58:05Z Area EMS officials consider ambulance fee hikesDeborah Laverty, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223

The revenue generated by Lake Station's ambulance service isn't as healthy as the city's emergency medical services director would like.

So Arthur "Skip" Howard, Lake Station's EMS director, and other city officials met to discuss the possibility of increasing ambulance service fees in every category to keep up with increased costs of gasoline, medications and equipment.

"What I proposed is what should allow us to be 100 percent budget clear then ... We should be in the black instead of the red," Howard said.

The suggested increases, which won't go into effect until the Lake Station City Council approves them, would include an automatic 3 percent increase that would go into effect in January 2015.

Lake Station isn't alone in seeking to balance its ambulance budget.

Portage raised its ambulance fees last year to keep up with the cost of providing services.

Hobart approved additional fees last week for its ambulance services.

The Hobart City Council approved adding a separate charge for oxygen use on a Basic Life Support call.

The $14.25 fee for both residents and nonresidents is allowable by most insurance companies and gives the department a chance to recoup some expenses, Bob Scott said.

Scott is Hobart's Emergency Medical Services director.

"This is new. It will not affect most senior citizens, and when they are having trouble breathing and need oxygen, they will almost always be taken via Advanced Life Support, which includes the oxygen in its fee, Scott said.

Hobart officials also approved raising the transport mileage fee from $9.50 to $11 with a maximum of five miles.

"That was done due to the additional cost increases in fuel and is covered by all insurances," Scott said.

Scott said Hobart a few years ago increased its ambulance fees and built in a 3 percent annual hike each year.

"It hasn't covered the rise of costs," Scott said.

The cost for a basic ambulance service in Hobart is $386.17; Advanced Life Support Level One, $519.84 and Advanced Life Support Level Two, $740.51.

Under Lake Station's proposal, basic ambulance service would go from $400 to $600; Advanced Life Support  Level One from $500 to $700 and Advanced Life Support Level Two would go from $700 to $900.

Portage, which raised its ambulance fees last year, charges $500 for basic life support; $700 for Advanced Life Support Level One and $850 for Advance Life Support Level Two.


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