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2/28/2013 2:38:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Council rejects ambulance fee boost

Jennifer Marshall Best
Herald Staff Writer

BRIDGEPORT - The city of Bridgeport's ambulance fee for "assess and release" services will remain the same for now.

A motion to increase that fee failed 4-1 during the Feb. 13 Bridgeport City Council meeting, with Councilman Kevin Morris voting in favor of his own motion.

Mayor Marilynn Lynn recommended an increase from $75 to $100 for Emergency Medical Services to treat patients on-site rather than transporting them to a hospital. The reason, she said, is that what the city charges now is below the price range set by Medicare.

There was also discussion of raising the basic life support service charge from $550 to $650, which is about mid-range. A $2 increase was considered for the third aspect of EMS service, mileage, to total $17.

While Morris would be in favor of increasing the treatment without transport fee, he said, he would rather leave the other service charges alone since they're within Medicare's recommended range.

Council Member Jackie Hentges said she didn't see a good reason to raise the rate to $100, and she didn't want the city to be "part of the problem" in ever-increasing health insurance costs. Councilman Neil Jacobson expressed reluctance at passing another rate increase, considering the city will enact a $10 sewer rate hike June 1 to help pay for the upcoming wastewater treatment plant improvements.

The council asked the city staff to gather more information about the necessity for raising those rates before the next meeting, held this week after press time.

Council Member Janet Conklin said the city should consider dropping the $3 monthly ambulance fee tacked onto the utility bill if rates are going to be raised. Lynn said the plan is to see how revenues are progressing in a year or two before a decision is made on whether the fee should be kept. In a December meeting, Finance Director Lisa Stark said the $3 fee is set aside for the future purchase of an ambulance vehicle.

The city received about $447 in ambulance revenues in 2011 and $8,828 in 2012, according to Stark. The boost was at least partly due to the city's hiring of EMS Billing Services, Inc. in early 2012.

The city also increased its ambulance service fees a year ago for the first time since 2003.

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