YES ON 7A YES ON 7A YES ON 7A
Is $0.02 for every $1.00 you spend too much for quality and responsive emergency medical and ambulance services? The Sales Tax Initiative provides and Sustains quality EMS and ambulance services with a Two Cent Sales Tax.
Introduction and Summary
Ute Pass Regional Ambulance District (UPRAD) was formed in 2005 and funded in 2006. As promised, UPRAD has been providing reliable and quality emergency medical services (EMS) since then. The sub-station in Florissant was built, staffed and opened. District Resident patients are receiving their 50% resident discounts.
Recently, UPRAD modified its service plan and changed its name to Ute Pass Regional Health Service District (UPRHSD). The reason for the modification and name change was because healthcare and payment systems are changing. Continuing to operate solely as an ambulance district limited UPRAD’s flexibility to adapt to the changes and challenges imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now, as a health service district, UPRHSD will have the legal capacity and operational flexibility to adapt to the new regulatory structures and payment systems imposed by the ACA.
When the ambulance district was formed plans existed for many economic and service related variables; however, no one dreamed of, nor planed for, the impacts of the ACA. Provisions of the ACA are going to require that the ambulance modify the services it provides and improve quality on the same or reduced revenues. The ambulance district must prepare for, and pay for, new services and payment structures required by the ACA.
Emergency Medical Services are essential to our community. When called upon, ambulances must respond and patients can’t be denied service for any reason. Ambulances provide services now and worry about payments later. Attempts are made to maximize payments but 70% of the ambulance bills go to Medicare, Medicaid and VA that pay far below cost. Only 30% of the bills are sent to private insurance. Federal law prohibits the billing of Medicare and Medicaid patients for unpaid amounts.
Recent averages show the ambulance district billed over $2.8 million dollars to these payers but lost over half ($1.5 million) to government mandated write-offs. To make matters worse, since full implementation of the ACA even private insurance is significantly reducing what they pay for ambulance service. Payers are reducing their payments without regard to ambulance costs. Average insurance payments used to be around $1,300 but dropped to $730 on ambulance bills averaging $2,140 and costs averaging $1,900. Additionally, non-residents use ambulance services without paying for the services they consume. Non-resident use accounts for nearly a third of all calls but pay less than half of their bills.
Ambulance costs have been cut. Ambulance coverage has been reduced, staffing lowered, raises withheld, capital improvements deferred, and facility improvements delayed. With ambulance costs increasing and payments for services decreasing how are quality ambulance services to continue without your support?
Funds generated by the sales tax increase will cover the $1.4 million revenue deficit caused by the government mandated write-offs and be used to pay raising operational costs, purchase new ambulances and medical equipment, retain and hire new staff, and improve training and education to ensure quality. In addition to service enhancements, district residents will receive insurance only billing for medically necessary ambulance services and will not be balance-billed for the amounts not paid by their insurance.
Raising rates is an option, but Medicare and Medicaid won’t pay the higher rates. Raising property taxes is an option, but why should property owners continue to pay for those who don’t? The sales taxes ensures that everyone who needs and uses ambulance services contributes to what they consume.
Please vote yes for long-term sustainable, responsive and accountable ambulance services. Please vote yes on the Sales Tax Initiative.
Did you know… Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is the second most requested 911 public safety resource after law enforcement?
Please vote YES on the 7A Sales Tax Initiative!
Paid for by Friends of EMS