NY ambulance network opposes bill to allow FDs to charge for services

The United New York Ambulance Network fears the bill will hurt the ambulance industry, while fire departments are looking to recoup the costs of medical calls


By News Staff 

NEW YORK — A New York bill would give volunteer fire departments the ability to charge insurance companies for their services, a change the United New York Ambulance Network is against.

United New York Ambulance Network officials believe the proposed legislation would give volunteer departments the ability to double-dip taxpayer dollars, Crain’s New York Business reports. They also fear the departments will be dipping into the state’s Medicaid resources.

The new law would affect 465 fire departments that respond to approximately 300,000 annual calls. (Photo/ Creative Commons)
The new law would affect 465 fire departments that respond to approximately 300,000 annual calls. (Photo/ Creative Commons)

"With Medicaid reimbursement rates already far below the cost of doing business and inflation, every time an ambulance provider answers a call from a patient covered by Medicaid, they lose money," a statement from the network read. "But now volunteer fire district ambulances – who already receive additional financial support from taxpayers – would accept Medicare reimbursements as payment in full and rely on taxpayer funding to cover their loss."

The new law would affect 465 fire departments that respond to approximately 300,000 annual calls, and is supported by several state fire unions, including the Association of Fire Chiefs, the Firemen's Association, the Association of Fire Districts and the County Fire Coordinators' Association.

While officials with the United New York Ambulance Network fear this bill will hurt the ambulance industry, fire departments are looking to recoup some of the costs of delivering emergency services to the public.

"It's more than what many of our communities can bear simply through property taxes," Lee Shurtleff, director and fire coordinator for the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response and vice president of the state Association of Fire Chiefs said in an interview last month with Crain’s New York Business. "We're looking for potential to recoup expenses through billing to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance."

The bill passed the state Senate on June 14, but needs to pass the Assembly before it can be signed into law. 

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