EMS costs the county too much, says commissioners

Ambulance transportation isn’t a profitable business although the service is a part of treating illnesses and saving lives.

This has created tension in Fayette County as commissioners announced earlier this year that they will stop paying the annual $660,000 needed for Fayette County Memorial Hospital (FCMH) to continue providing county-wide Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

The decision was shared in a letter to all boards of township trustees, the Washington C.H. city manager and city council, and mayors and council members of the villages of Jeffersonville, Bloomingburg, Octa, Milledgeville, and New Holland.

“[A]fter giving serious consideration and a review of the County’s anticipated financial resources, and projected and continuing financial obligations for 2017 and beyond, the County has determined it will be necessary to cease its current financial assistance to the Fayette County Memorial Hospital to provide county wide EMS services effective Dec. 31, 2017,” states the letter dated May 1.

The county has provided $3.3 million to fund county EMS services over the past five years, according to commissioner Dan Dean. The $3.3 million accounts for a $660,000 EMS budget each year. The $3.3 million came from a portion of the county sales tax revenue, said Dean.

“The county cannot, we know we cannot, keep paying for EMS within our budget because we’re going to come to a limit,” said Dean in an interview Thursday. “What the county elected to do, and is trying to get everybody on board with, is to get all of the incorporated areas and townships to contribute [to the EMS costs].”

Dean said about 80 percent of the county’s townships and incorporated areas have already agreed to participate in the 2018 cost-sharing plan to fund the county EMS and the county is negotiating now to get the rest of the county officials committed. That plan will keep the county-wide EMS intact and unified as one service throughout 2018, said Dean. Without the current county-wide EMS service, each township and incorporated area, including the City of Washington C.H., would have to contract for its own EMS services.

“The city does not want to operate its own EMS system,” said Washington C.H. City Manager Joe Denen in an interview Tuesday.

The Washington Court House City Council passed a resolution Aug. 9 to contribute $141,920 to fund the county-wide EMS services throughout 2018.

“We have an interest in knowing what a long-term solution is and how it’s structured but we’re not — it’s kind of hard to speculate on the future — if council asked if we should continue something like that indefinitely I would provide very skeptical advice,” said Denen. “This resolution is a very temporary solution to allow the county time to think about how a long-term solution is going to look. Doing something like this year-to-year is temporary and is not a very good way of running an EMS system.”

Dean said the county recognizes that keeping one unified EMS service would be the most efficient and cost-saving measure for everyone.

The temporary plan for the 2018 budget stipulates that each township and incorporated area will be responsible for paying $10 per capita (based on the area’s population). For the city of Washington C.H., the population in the last census was 14,920 and that’s how the 2018 contribution of $141,920 was calculated. The money will be spent from the city’s general fund, said Denen.

Dean said the county was notified by the state earlier this year to expect substantial reductions in support as revisions to federal and state laws and budgets are passed this year. Currently, Dean said the county is losing sales tax revenue and that the state’s biennium budget striking a tax on Medicaid managed care organizations means the county would lose about $600,000 in sales tax revenue a year.

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City contributes $141,920 to keep EMS intact for 2018

By Ashley Bunton


Reach Ashley by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton