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Arlington Heights Fire Department Ambulance Transport Fee Will More Than Double

Thu October 19 2017 9:36 am  http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=85459
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The Arlington Heights Village Board ruled to increase its ambulance transport fee by 275 percent, which would apply to Arlington Heights residents with insurance coverage. Uninsured nonresidents who use an ambulance while in Arlington Heights, for example in a crash or who are injured or sick work, would be required to pay the new higher fees, not covered by insurance.

Starting November 1, 2017 the Village of Arlington Heights will charge $1,500 per transport and add a charge of $12 per mile. Deductibles, co-payments, mileage or other associated costs for village residents would be waived under a plan approved by the village board this week.

Although a non-resident who isn’t covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid would have to pay the $1500 fee, Deputy Fire Chief Bernie Lyons said the village would take a “compassionate approach” to the collection of fees.

Officials say patients who claim a hardship would be directed to the emergency assistance program in Arlington Heights. Those who provide a hardship letter from their hospital could get a write-off, as is currently the case with homeless patients. Paramedics are dispatched to a significant number of calls involving homeless patients in downtown Arlington Heights, near North School Park, and near Recreation Park.

“No patient will be sent to collection services without their situation being thoroughly reviewed by our staff,” according to Arlington Heights Fire Department Deputy Chief Bernie Lyons.

Arlington Heights currently charges $400 to $450 to residents and $600 to $650 to nonresidents for ambulance transports. Those rates have been in effect for the past 11 years. In the early years of the EMS program, paramedics service was subsidized by the Village of Arlington Heights, and was initially free, and then $50 per transport or call.

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The Village of Arlington Heights is working to fill a $900,000 budget gap caused by State of Illinois cuts to the share of income and sales tax revenues that Arlington Heights receives. The cost of providing emergency medical services has also increased. Paramedic services demand from residents has also increased. Arlington Heights is the home of several extended care healthcare facilities. On many days, Arlington Heights Fire Department transports three or more patients per day from the Lutheran Home, for example.

The fee hike to $1500 would add $960,000 annually to the $1.7 million the village already collects in transport fees.

POTENTIAL AMBULANCE TRANSPORT FEE INCOME
($1500 per transport)

6 ambulance calls/day = $3,285,000/year
5 ambulance calls/day = $2,737,500/year
4 ambulance calls/day = $2,190,000/year

Trustee Tom Glasgow voted against the fee increase this week. All other village board members voted for the ambulance transport fee increase.

“We subsidize the parking garage, health clinic, police and chamber of commerce. If we can subsidize those things, we can subsidize this as well. To raise it for people who truly can’t afford it. I have an ethical problem with that.”

— Trustee Tom Glasgow

Trustee Jim Tinaglia stated the fee increase wouldn’t impact village residents, but without the additional revenue, he feared it could lead to a property tax increase or reduction in village services to make the budget.

“I’m more concerned with my neighbors I’m elected to represent than I am for someone who is visiting from out of town and not paying our tax bills on a regular basis. I’m not interested in subsidizing this extra cost on the backs of 75,000 residents.”

— Jim Tinaglia

Andres Medical Billing, the Arlington Heights EMS billing contractor, which bills for other client paramedics services, including community fire departments and private ambulances, reports its clients charge $350 to $2,600 per transport. Naperville recently raised its fee to $1,800, and Elgin is considering doing the same. Naperville is the only

Private ambulance services on average charge $2,000 per transport.

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