Thursday, October 21, 2010

MEDIA ADVISORY: Regional FIRE CHIEFS to Discuss Benefits of EMS Fee in Their Jurisdictions


Thursday, October 21, 2010
12:30 p.m.

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
1st Floor Training Room
777 North Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC

Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers will be joined by Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones, Fairfax County Fire Chief Ronald Mastin, Frederick County Fire Chief Thomas Owens; District of Columbia Chief of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department Dennis L. Rubin; Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz and other regional Fire Chiefs to discuss the success of their Emergency Medical Services (EMS) revenue recovery programs. Montgomery County voters will decide on November 2 whether to approve County Question A, which will allow County Council Bill 13-10: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Fee to become law.

The chiefs will discuss how long their EMS revenue recovery programs have been in existence, how they have worked over the years and why the programs make sense, particularly in these times of budgetary challenges.

The EMS fee is a critical issue for Montgomery County and particularly for the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS). Without the transport revenue, Montgomery County will have to cut an additional $14 million from the current year’s operating budget. On October 5, County Executive Isiah Leggett sent proposed cuts to the County Council that would reduce FRS’s operating budget by $6 million and could mean a loss of 89 career firefighter paramedic positions.

Under the EMS Fee, FRS will continue to serve anybody in need, regardless of ability to pay. The County would be allowed to recover ambulance transport costs from premiums already paid to insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid that amounts to $14 million this year and $170 million over the next 10 years. All revenues would be dedicated, by law, to strengthen the Fire & Rescue Service. Under the law, no County resident will ever get a bill for ambulance transport, co-pays or deductibles -- whether they have insurance or not.

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