We must keep the Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service world-class and make sure it has the resources to protect our families. We must continue to serve everyone in need, regardless of ability to pay.
That’s why Council passage today of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Fee is so important. This measure will save lives because our Fire & Rescue Service will have the resources it needs to meet the growing emergency service needs within the County.
With passage of this bill, Montgomery County will receive $13 million this year – and nearly $170 million over ten years -- in revenue from funds already set aside by private insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Other jurisdictions are already using these funds to improve services and save lives – with no adverse effects. Passage of this fee will allow Montgomery to do the same.
• County residents with health insurance will pay nothing – no co-pays, no deductibles, nothing. Guaranteed. The charge will be billed directly to Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance companies. County residents without insurance pay nothing. If questions arise about reimbursements that will be between the companies/payors and the County – the individual County resident will still pay nothing.
• Nearly all of our neighboring jurisdictions either have an EMS Transport fee -- Fairfax County, Frederick County, Prince George’s County, the District of Columbia, Arlington County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore, Prince William County, and Alexandria. In fact 19 of 26 Maryland counties, over 50 of 95 Virginia counties and the vast majority of jurisdictions nationwide already have such a fee.
• 100 percent of the net proceeds of the EMS Transport Fee will go by law to strengthen and enhance the MCFRS.
• There is also no evidence that health insurance premiums have gone up because of EMS charges. Ambulance expenditures account for less than 1 percent of insurance expenditures. In most cases County residents may already be paying for ambulance service as a part of their premiums.
• There is no evidence from jurisdictions that have successfully implemented this fee that it deters anyone from calling for needed emergency medical transport assistance.
• There is no evidence that such fees have hurt volunteer efforts in any of the jurisdictions that have implemented.
If we had failed to implement an EMS Transport fee, our options would have been to increase taxes further, take resources away from other critical County needs, or slow the pace of needed improvements in our emergency medical services. That is unacceptable.
The County Council has made the right call – and County residents will be safer as a result.