Ambulance rates to go up 4% next year

Ambulance rides are getting a bit pricier next year.

The Board of Selectmen discussed a 4% increase in ambulance fees for 2018 at its July 12 meeting.

Costs for a ride with “Basic Life Support” will go from $698 this year to $726 starting Jan. 1, 2018. Costs will go from $1,105 for “Advanced Life Support Level 1” to $1,149 and from $1,141 for “Advanced Life Support Level 2 to $1,187.

Fire Chief Jerry Myers, who oversees ambulance operations, told the selectmen that ambulance revenue covers about 30% of emergency medical services expenses.

“That’s supposed to count for salaries, running supplies, expenses, everything,” he said.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said that the estimated ambulance revenue for 2018 is $825,000 of a total budget of $2.8 million — or 63% of fire department’s expenses.

After subtracting the $825,000 expected revenue, each ambulance call will cost the town about $1,000.

“In reality, we’d like that average to go up, so we’d have fewer calls,” said Marconi.

“If we don’t go for the maximum, we’re shorting the taxpayer.”

The town is raising the rates after being notified by the state what the allowed maximum charges for the new year will be — which is 4% for 2018.

In 2016, the department’s 1,952 EMS calls represented of 63% of a total 3,096 calls, according to the department.

Both Marconi and Selectman Steveo Zemo emphasized that the town doesn’t chase anyone to pay their ambulance bill — which is typically covered by insurance.

“I’d like to add the publicly-stated caveat to continue policy of not dunning anyone who doesn’t have insurance or can’t pay for it,” said Zemo.

“They don’t get pushed,” said Marconi.