County Executive Ike Leggett has praised the County Council for approving the “Emergency Medical Transportation Insurance Reimbursement Act” during its May 15 session.
Under the act, the County would recover approximately $18 million a year in Emergency Medical Services costs from insurers and the government at no cost to County residents -- whether or not they have health insurance. County residents would not even get a bill.
Currently, all costs for the County Fire & Rescue Service are borne entirely by County taxpayers.
Leggett said, “This legislation will help strengthen our Fire & Rescue Service and is good for the taxpayers. I want to thank the career and volunteer Fire & Rescue personnel who have written to me and spoken out in favor of this legislation.
"The Montgomery County League of Women Voters recommended approval of the legislation, in addition to the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board and the Montgomery Democratic Party that overwhelmingly supported the legislation. The latter two groups had previously opposed the law. Other groups in the County also weighed in to support it once they had the chance to fully evaluate the law on its merits.
“The State of Maryland has recently decided to shift to Montgomery County what could very well be more than $400 million over 10 years in state teacher pension costs,” Leggett said. “The State has also approved a new ‘Maintenance of Effort’ law on school funding that could force us to add millions more to our reserves each year above and beyond what we already do.
“These are changed circumstances of monumental significance, ones that were not before the voters in 2010 when the referendum on the County’s EMS reimbursement program occurred,” Leggett noted.
“I believe,” the Executive said, “the evidence is clear that either you allow the County to request reimbursement from insurance companies and the federal government from premiums already paid to them -- just as nearly every other jurisdiction in the region does – or you raise taxes, or you cut services already reduced severely over the past five years.”
“Since 2010, Anne Arundel County in Maryland and Prince William County in Virginia have joined nearly everybody else in the region in authorizing insurance reimbursement – collecting millions of dollars with no evidence of adverse effects,” said Leggett. “Montgomery County should do the same.”
This legislation is different from the law before the voters in 2010 in several important ways. This version:
- Specifies that County residents pay no out-of-pocket expenses relating to any County EMS transport;
- Prohibits Fire & Rescue Service personnel who respond to a request for emergency transport from seeking any insurance information from those being served;
- Establishes an Emergency Medical Services Patient Advocate in the Office of Consumer Protection;
- Requires the Fire Chief to report on a semi-annual basis to the County Executive and County Council on implementation of the Act; and
- Requires a broad public education campaign as the program is implemented, especially focused on “New American” communities and County seniors.
“The proceeds from the insurance reimbursements would go to help strengthen our Fire & Rescue Service," Leggett explained. “And, of course, our Fire & Rescue Service will continue to serve all in need, regardless of ability to pay -- just like before.”
Get more information about the “Emergency Medical Transportation Insurance Reimbursement Act.”
Read Councilmember Riemer’s letter of support.
Montgomery County Council Approves Emergency Medical Transportation Insurance Reimbursement Law (pdf)