MARYLAND

Montgomery County ambulance fees in the works

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Monday, Montgomery County took a huge step towards instituting  ambulance fees, reaching a deal with volunteer firefighters for their support.

The ambulance fees will range from $300-$800. But in most situations residents won't pay for them, their insurance companies and the federal government will.

Most surrounding jurisdictions already have fees in place.

In the past, the Volunteer Firefighters Association wouldn't support the fees, arguing they would make residents hesitant to call for assistance. The association has now reversed its position.

Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers said, "Number one, we're on common ground now…we have an improved relationship going forward and thirdly and most importantly, service to the residents here in Montgomery County are going to be enhanced with this EMS  reimbursement."

As part of the deal, the county agreed to set aside about $3 million per year for volunteers and around $15 million for career firefighters. The money will come from the funds raised by billing insurance companies and the federal government for ambulance services.

"Probably about 60 percent of this comes from the federal government, Medicaid and Medicare. Te other 35 to 40 percent comes from private insurers," Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett explained.

The county says the money will also pay for two new engines, five new ambulances and equipment for those vehicles, as well as repairs, training and salaries.

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