Shout Out: Should Montgomery County Charge Ambulance Fees?
Montgomery County is one of the few jurisdictions in the nation that does not charge ambulance fees, but that could be about to change.
Montgomery County is the only jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C. region that does not charge ambulance fees, thanks to a 2010 referendum in which county voters rejected the fees after the fees had been approved by the county council.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) favors the fees as a way to help bring in revenue. As a courtesy to Leggett, Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D - Dist. 1) introduced the executive's legislation to establish a fee earlier this month.
"The executive has asked the council to reconsider the fee in light of state actions that have intruded on council taxing authority and the looming possibility of a shift in half of teacher pension costs," The Gazette reported.
The ambulance fee would be paid mostly by insurance companies, "whose rates already reflect regional ambulance fee reimbursements," The Washington Post—which has endorsed the fees—stated earlier this month.
"The county would pick up any co-pays or deductibles, including charges for uninsured residents," The Post added. Only out-of-county, uninsured residents who call for an ambulance in Montgomery County would face deductibles or co-pays.
Not charging the fees has "deprive[ed] the county of about $14 million annually that would otherwise defray the expense of emergency services," The Post added.
However, volunteer firefighters including the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad continue to oppose the fees.
The ambulance fee bill is scheduled for a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8.
What do you think? Should the county charge an ambulance fee? Tell us in the comments.