Folsom To Start Charging For Emergency Medical Calls
CBS Sacramento: Starting Monday, the city of Folsom’s fire department will charge $225 for anyone needing a paramedic.
In an era where every American is watching how they spend their money, Folsom’s move follows an alarming trend in how fire departments are delivering first response medical aid. “We gotta find money from somewhere so it’s going to be from people like you and me,” one resident said.
Folsom’s fire department is just the latest to charge a fee for its medical aid. “The real issue is how do we provide the essential services the community is seeking from us?” Folsom Fire Chief Ron Phillips said.
Starting Monday, on top of the taxes that people pay each year for service, the new fees charged to people who call 911 for medical help will go into effect to cover the costs of gas, supplies, and paramedic personnel. Folsom estimates $225 per call whether a patient goes to the hospital or not.
Sacramento Metro Fire already charges $275 for medical aid. Sacramento City Fire has a smaller fee of $96 and is only charged if the patient does not go to the hospital.
Chief Phillips knows costs can affect care. Some people won’t call for help if they know they’re going to be charged for it. “They’re constantly weighing out whether they should call 911,” he said. “And we really encourage people to call 911. Don’t let that weigh into this discussion.”
“I believe that those who’ve paid their taxes all these years will end up paying for those don’t, just like we do now,” Folsom resident Judy Lowder said.
Folsom fire paramedics respond to about 3,500 calls for service a year. They expect these new fees to bring in about $250,000 in this next fiscal year.
The City of Folsom budget discusses the “new economic reality” that causes them to reconsider their service delivery plans. They note that their FY12-13 budget, “preserves and enhances the fundamental priorities of this community…and takes critical steps toward achieving a sustainable budget that addresses all our programmatic needs”.
With many cities and counties in the red, just how many more additional fees will we see on top of our taxes? The cities of San Bernadino, Stockton, and Mammoth Lakes (CA) filed for bankruptcies in the past two weeks (San Bernadino’s vote is pending), due in large part to decreased revenues, increased employee costs, and (my guess) not cutting back enough on expenditures.
At what point will public agencies realize that their citizens are not ATMs? If only they operated like a private sector business, then we could see some savings for taxpayers and proper management of funds.