Wash. fire and rescue considers raising ambulance fees
The district may increase the price of services to by 1.6 percent and charge $16 per mile
By Rachel Anne Seymour
SILVERDALE, Wash. — Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue is considering increasing the fees and mileage it charges to people who need ambulance services.
The commissioners discussed increasing basic fees by 1.6 percent and mileage to $16 per mile. Basic fees range from $591 to $873, depending on the level of care provided. The fees could increase to a range of $600 to $887.
The district also might add itemized charges for cases that require use of a heart monitor, IV, backboard, oxygen monitor and extra oxygen.
“If you are not itemizing, you are leaving money on the table,” Battalion Chief Joseph Repar said.
Private emergency medical companies routinely do itemized billing, Repar noted.
The North Mason Regional Fire Authority already itemizes for the five charges CKFR is considering, according to Capt. Jeromy Hicks.
CKFR currently earns $1,210,000 from transportation rates, but has budgeted for $1.25 million this year.
Repar presented three options to the Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue commissioners during a meeting Monday. They included:
Sticking with the current fee and mileage rate of $15 per mile.
Increasing the fee by 2.5 percent without a change in mileage, which would increase revenue by $11,000.
Increasing the fee by 2.5 percent without a change in mileage, but adding itemized billing.
CKFR commissioners suggested changing the rate increase to 1.6 percent, the inflation rate, along with increasing the mileage.
“It’s hard to justify another number,” Commissioner Bob Muhleman said about the inflation rate.
Commissioner Dave Fergus voiced concern about increasing the mileage rate, because Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements are fixed. In those cases, raising the fee would not increase revenue, Fergus noted.
About 64 percent of CKFR’s transportation calls are capped Medicare and Medicaid calls, according to Ileana LiMarzi, the district’s public information officer.
CKFR is not the only local district looking at increasing its mileage rate.
South Kitsap Fire and Rescue is considering an increase from $11 per mile to $15, Chief Steve Wright said. Area fire district charge mileage rates ranging from $11 to $18, he estimated.
North Mason Fire charges $10 per mile, one of the lowest rates in the area, and has no intention of changing rates, according to Hicks.
CKFR could vote on a transportation rate increase during its Feb. 10 meeting. If approved, the new transportation fees could be implemented as soon as March, according to Chief Scott Weninger.
Transportation fees provide 7.8 percent of CKFR’s $15.9 million budget.
Levy revenues account for $13,363,555, 83.6 percent, of the district’s income.
During Monday’s meeting, CKFR commissioners started discussing when to request extensions of its current levies. The levies, set at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value for fire and 50 cents per $1,000 for EMS, will expire at the end of 2015.
State lawmakers are considering raising the EMS levy maximum from 50 cents to 75 cents per $1,000 assessed value.