This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or email@example.com. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Fees for service
If you listened to last night’s discussion (after a silent public hearing) on the city’s proposal to start charging fees for ambulance service, to be collected from residents’ insurance companies, you can read the Fire Department’s rundown on the proposal here(links to their FAQs and the ordinance are at the bottom).
If approved, the fees wouldn’t take effect until Oct. 1, and fire officials plan a public information campaign before then.
As in other localities that have adopted this program, emergency officials have said repeatedly that they hope to make the billing invisible to residents, they plan to use a “compassionate” billing policy that would allow fees to be waived for uninsured city residents who qualify and that no one would be denied service because of inability to pay.
“We never want anybody to not call for the rescue squad because they’re afraid they are going to get a bill,” city Fire Chief Edwin Allen said. “Our first goal is to provide the service, and collecting from the insurance company is at the bottom of our list.”
Councilwoman Debby Girvan abstained from the otherwise unanimous first vote on the new ordinance last night. Among other things, she said she didn’t think there had been enough public information on the subject. She asked a number of questions about the billing and potential problems.
Fire officials, council members and City Manager Phillip Rodenberg all pointed out that the program has been in use in localities around the state and nation for years, and that city emergency officials, as well as representatives from its volunteer rescue squad, have been studying it since before last fall’s City Council retreat.
Fredericksburg’s neighboring counties both decided recently to institute the fees after wading through some of the same issues Girvan was bringing up. Allen said those localities have not seen a drop in calls or had serious problems implementing the fees, and the new money has allowed them to expand their services.
Girvan said she hopes to be able to support the program, but, “I want to talk to some of the people I talked to to see if some of the answers to these questions alleviate their concerns.”