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For Immediate Release: 5/15/2012
Leggett Hails Council Approval of New EMS Insurance Reimbursement Legislation: Helps Offset Multi-Million Dollar State Pension Shift & Helps Strengthen Fire & Rescue Services

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today praised the County Council for its approval of the “Emergency Medical Transportation Insurance Reimbursement Act.”

The Act would allow the County to 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 Services are borne entirely by County taxpayers.

Montgomery County is nearly the only jurisdiction in the region that does not have the authority to collect reimbursements. Other jurisdictions are collecting tens of millions of dollars annually from insurance companies to strengthen their Fire & Rescue Services – with no evidence of any adverse impacts.

“This legislation will help strengthen our Fire & Rescue Service and is good for the taxpayers,” said County Executive Leggett. “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 this legislation, as well as the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board and the Montgomery Democratic Party, both of whom changed their previous positions to overwhelmingly support this legislation. And many other groups in the County have 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 to Montgomery County. 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. These changes were not before the voters in 2010 when the referendum on the County’s EMS reimbursement program occurred.

“I believe 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 higher, or you cut services already reduced severely over the past five years.”

“The legislation is different from what was before the voters in 2010 in several important ways:

• Specifies in the law 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 semiannual 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.

“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 County Executive Leggett. “Montgomery County should do the same.

“The proceeds from the insurance reimbursements would go to help strengthen our Fire & Rescue Services. And, of course, our Fire & Rescue Services will continue to serve all in need, regardless of ability to pay-- just like before.” 

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Release ID: 12-130
Media Contact: Patrick Lacefield 240-777-6528

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