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Wash. city council chooses new ambulance service to save money for citizens

Longview officials expect Medix to save citizens $250 in response costs

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Medix Ambulance Service/Facebook

By Hayley Day
The Daily News

LONGVIEW, Wash. — Longview City Council unanimously approved last week a five-year contract with a new ambulance provider slated to save around $250 off the average response cost for citizens, as well as provide more ambulances than the city previously had.

The city is now using Medix instead of the previous provider AMR, or American Medical Response.

Council approved the contract on May 9 and it went into effect Monday morning.

Longview owns two ambulances — a primary and a backup — and contracts with a company for additional help.

Longview EMS Chief Eric Koreis said in an email the department staffed one of its ambulances for 203 days in 2023, but would need to hire more people to use them more.

Lower costs, more ambulances

Koreis said patient ambulance bills will be lower on average under the new contract than the year before.

Under the previous AMR contract, the average cost of response in 2023 was $2,071, while the current Medix contract places that cost at $1,825, according to a presentation at the recent council meeting by Longview Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway.

This average response cost is determined by adding all expenses like the ambulance base charges to patients and insurance companies, as well as mileage fees, and dividing it by the number of calls in a recent year, Koreis said.

Those fees don’t come from the city’s general fund, but citizens paying out of pocket or through insurance companies when they use ambulances.

Medix is also providing more staff, allowing the city to have about one more ambulance on the weekdays, as well as during the night on weekends, and two more on the weekends during the day.

“All of that is an improvement on what we’ve had for many years now,” said Dunaway.

Why a new contract?

Former City Manager Kris Swanson told The Daily News in January AMR alerted the city that month the company would cancel its service agreement in March due to rising costs, low reimbursement for services and difficulty attracting and retaining staff.

Longview Mayor Spencer Boudreau asked at last week’s meeting if AMR was “not making enough money off of our contract,” and Dunaway said “correct.”

Longview Public Information Officer Angela Abel said while the city was requesting proposals for the new contract, Longview used two AMR ambulances and two from Medix.

Mayor Pro Tem Kalei LaFave said through her work through the Cowlitz Chaplaincy she has heard “nothing but great things” about Medix.

Medix’s website says it also provides 911 services for Clatsop County, Oregon, as well as Long Beach, Ilwaco and Chinook in Washington.

(c)2024 The Daily News, Longview, Wash.
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