Fees being raised for ambulance service in Adams County

In 2011, the Adams County Ambulance Service averaged about 20 calls a day. And when one of the EMTs or paramedics are either on vacation, taking a sick day or maybe even on short term disability, that means another EMT or paramedic has to fill in and that means overtime. Money spent on that, as well as slower reimbursements from the state and insurance companies has put a strain on this year's budget.

"We're trying to hedge against those costs we have to pay. We need some assistance and in terms of making sure that we don't see a larger budget problem later, it was important to see an increase now," Paul Davis, Adams County Ambulance Service chief, said.

The fiscal year for the ambulance service runs from December 1, 2011 to November 30, 2012. And with the budget year just four-months-old, there's already a negative balance of about a quarter of a million dollars. The ambulance board is hoping the increase in rates will help plug that financial drain.

"Patients who are normally covered by insurance, we don't see as many of those anymore. Some of them are self pay or have shifted to a government program such as public aid or Medicare. And actually Medicare the payer mix for Medicare is on it's way down as well," Davis said.

Davis said a majority of the people they transport have either a private insurance company that covers most of the bill, or the patients are on Medicare or Medicaid and that they won't see an increase in what comes out of their pocket to cover the expense of calling for an ambulance.

Numbers released by the Adams County Ambulance service show that about 72% of 7,330 calls last year were medical related.

The rest were trauma, motor vehicle crashes, cardiac arrest or patient transfers from one facility to another.

The last time ambulance fees were raised in Adams County was back in 2010.