Hobart city council plans increase to better fund the fire department
Chas Reilly, The Times, Munster, Ind.
HOBART – Hobart is poised to increase it ambulance fees, a move city officials said appears to be overdue for years.
“I think it’s money we’ve been leaving on the table for quite a lot of years,” City Councilman P. Lino Maggio said before the council on Wednesday approved the first reading of an ordinance to increase the fees.
The ordinance calls for ambulance fees to increase to $1,150 for each incident of basic life support, $1,500 for advanced life support 1 and $1,800 for advanced life support 2. A $200 charge will be added when providing emergency medical services to nonresidents.
The council is expected to consider adopting the new fee structure during its Nov. 18 meeting. If that occurs, the new fees will go into effect on Jan. 1. Ambulance charges also will be increased by 6% annually starting in 2022.
“And hopefully being able to capture some of these funds will help us better fund the Fire Department in the years to come,” Maggio said.
The current ambulance fee structure charges $620.71 for basic life support, $884.21 for advanced life support 1 and $1,223.85 for advanced life support 2.
A 3% annual increase has been in place for years for ambulance fees. Fire Chief Randy Smith said medical supplies have become substantially more expensive over the years, and the annual 3% increase hasn’t been enough to keep up with it.
City leaders and fire officials last month discussed the need to increase ambulance fees.
“We had pretty extensive discussion and detail about why we’re going here and I think that they made their case and explained to us why we need to change the things that we’re changing,” Councilman Matt Claussen said.
During last month’s session, Smith said the city bills about $2.5 million each year in ambulance fees, but about $1.4 million is collected.
Although the city has a fee structure in place, there are caps to the amounts that can be charged to those with Medicare and Medicaid, Smith said. There also are occasions in which bills have been written off because of nonpayment.
Fire officials also provided a comparison of ambulance fees in Northwest Indiana and it shows the majority of Hobart’s current fee structure is below average.
In Northwest Indiana, basic life support charges range from $450 to $1,550, according to information provided by the Fire Department.
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