Ambulance rates will jump Jan. 1

Ambulance rates will jump Jan. 1 by David Lias Some significant rate hikes for certain ambulance services were approved Monday by the Vermillion City Council.

Bill Petracek, Vermillion�s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) director, recommended that beginning Jan. 1, the base rate for city ambulance services be increased from $187 to $350. That�s an increase of 87 percent.

An 87 percent hike was also proposed and approved for multiple person charges. The city currently bills $93.50 for multiple person ambulance runs. Beginning Jan. 1, those charges will increase to $175, an 87 percent increase.

The only rate change set to become effective Jan. 1 is a 10 percent increase in mileage rates, from $4.50 to $5.

Petracek said the requested rate increases would offset the budget increase provided by the city to the ambulance department. The increase will provide revenue to allow for an approximate $36,000 budget deficit, according to Petracek�s revenue projections and his predictions of likely collection percentages.

Vermillion�s base rate charge for ambulance services will go from being one of the lowest in the state to one of the highest, effective Jan. 1.

According to figures collected by Petracek, the base rates for ambulance services across the state include $210 in Brookings, $350 in Chamberlain, $277 in Deadwood, $250 in Flandreau, $375 in Madison, $250 in Milbank, $270 in Spearfish, $250 in Sturgis, and $300 in Yankton.

Between 14 percent and 20 percent of people who require ambulance services have no health insurance, Petracek said.

He said that a high percentage of people in Vermillion covered by Medicare also have some form of supplemental insurance. When asked if the rate increases would pose too much of a financial burden to the elderly, Petracek said the ambulance service considers people�s financial situations. The ambulance department, by law, can never turn anyone down because of their financial situation.

The rate increases, he said, will help enhance the ambulance service, and help cut down on EMT turnover.

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