By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — The Medina Village Board voted Monday to increase the user fees for the village’s ambulance service for the second consecutive year.
The village board approved a five percent increase in the fees charged to insurers Monday, matching the increase done last year.
Municipal officials say the move will help keep the ambulance’s revenues better in line with its costs of providing the service.
”It’s in line with our expenses,” Mayor Andrew Meier said. “We face the typical increases in salary, workman’s compensation premiums, retirement and health insurance costs.”
”It’s the industry norm to have the rates increase a bit each year,” Medina Fire Chief Todd Zinkievich said. “We’re still on the lower end of billing for the area.”
The fees themselves are dependent upon the level of service provided and the distance traveled, according to Meyer.
Expenses for the service are rising just as swiftly as use of the service has since Medina took over ambulance services for western Orleans County in 2007. MFD responded to more than 2,000 ambulance calls last year, with one in five requiring advanced life support, the highest-level of ambulance care.
”Our work volume has tripled (since 2007),” Zinkievich said. “We knew it would increase, but not this much.”
Medina’s ambulance operation is manned by all 13 of the village’s full-time firemen and a handful of trained callmen. The village has four ambulances, each covers more than 20,000 miles every year.
”We bring an extension of the emergency room to where it’s needed,” Zinkievich said.
It can be a costly enterprise. While Medina residents contribute to Medina Fire Department through their village taxes, the ambulance service does not take in any revenue beyond the the reimbursements from insurers of those benefiting from the service.
”It’s a user fee,” Meier said. “The actual consumers are the ones contributing to the service.”
In 2011, the village received only $850,000 out of $1.6 million in potential billings due to reduced reimbursements from Medicaid, Medicare and Medicaid replacement programs. $180,000 in the gap was due to collectable debt being unpaid.
In addition to emergency transportation to Medina Memorial Hospital, the ambulance service also provides back-up service in eastern Niagara County and standby support at Medina High School sporting events.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.