Oh, your taxes? That was just in case you needed us.
Montgomery County, Maryland, is one of the richest and most educated counties in the United States. Their 2013 approved fire/rescue budget is $196.6 million, an increase of $16.6 million over FY 2012. Just what does $197 million dollars get you? Apparently not a ride to the hospital if you are sick or injured. That, my friends, will cost you extra.
The Washington Post reports that County residents and others unfortunate enough to require medical transport will soon be paying $300 to 800 for the privilege. Perhaps for the $300 fee you have to get into and out of the ambulance on your own. In addition, you will only have a choice of the two closest hospitals and there will be an additional fee if you insist on a trauma center.
Now for $800, the cot will be wheeled to your bedside, you have a choice of any hospital, including MedStar, music of your choice will be played en route, and if your medical condition allows, light hor d’oeuvres will be served.
It turns out that the County’s volunteers have fought the fee in the past but reached an agreement with the bosses where they will receive a 15% cut of the $18 million annual take. Now they are on board.
Residents are exhorted to remain calm as no one will actually have to pay. “County officials said that in nearly all cases, private insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid would cover the cost of ambulance service…” In a county where every other person has a post-graduate degree they are to ignore the fact that the costs of health care are skyrocketing and that Medicare and Medicaid are under attack. Ignorance is bliss.
This brilliant economic model where taxpayers fund the emergency service to the tune of $196 million dollars but have to pay if they actually need it, should be extended to fire operations, as well.
If you call the fire department because you think you might have a fire, but you don’t, there will be a standard $2500 consulting fee as they have a look around and find nothing.
If you actually have a fire, a matrix will be used to determine the cost based on the water used and the number of hoselines, and ground ladders deployed. The use of master streams and aerial devices is not covered in the matrix and are charged separately. For example, the deployment of a standard rear-mount aerial for use under five floors will cost $1500. Tillers and platforms are more.
County officials are exploring a “Diamond Plate Plus” program where any property owner, for an annual fee of $5,000 will be covered for one EMS call and one two-alarm fire per year. This should not be confused with the annual tax bill because taxes are paid just in case.
(Source: WP, Patch, Wiki, MC)