Price Tag For Ambulance Care

Wednesday, March 21st 2007, 7:58 pm
By: News On 6

The Tulsa City Council will consider a subsidization plan Thursday that allows citizens to voluntarily pay a monthly fee for EMSA service. At least one city councilor says the fee makes sense, but another member of the council says "not so fast". City Councilor Bill Martinson supports the idea of a voluntary fee for ambulance service. News On 6 anchor Omar Villafranca reports if passed a $3.64 monthly fee per household would show up in city water bills.

"We tried to make this as equitable as possible, and at $3.64 a month or whatever it makes out to be, that's for the entire household,” said Martinson. “So your entire household is covered for that rate."

Martinson says dwindling federal reimbursements have hurt EMSA, and the city doesn't have the money to pay for the service. Martinson believes a voluntary and monthly plan makes the most financial sense to the city and its residents.

"Everybody is assumed to opt in unless they opt out,” said Martinson. “And if they opt out, they're going to have to sign a document that acknowledges the fact that they assume the responsibility to pay the unsubsidized rate, which is about $1,100 per run."

Councilor Jack Henderson isn't sold on the idea or the timing of the proposal. He says two weeks ago EMSA spoke to the council about three different options. Now there is only one.

“I'm wondering how we got in this shape, because councilman Turner has been saying for the last year 'EMSA's coming up, EMSA's coming up, we got to worry about EMSA'," said Henderson.

He says he feels rushed and wants more information before he makes a decision.

"When you rush, you don't have time to evaluate everything you need to,” said Henderson. "To spend money, other's peoples money, you need to take time and evaluate every obstacle and every possible solution."

Martinson hopes he can make up his mind by the end of the month.

"If we don't take this move, we will have a $2.3 to $2.5 million burden on the general fund that hadn't been there before," said Martinson.

EMSA covers other cities like Bixby, Skiatook, Sand Springs and Jenks. Those city councils will have to decide how to fund their part of the deal with EMSA.