Is it Right for the City to Charge Patients for EMS Service?

Northeast side Councilman Clayton Perry is calling out the city for charging sick and injured taxpayers for EMS service, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"Responding to a fire, we don't charge for that," he said. "The police dont't charge for their services, because the taxpayer is paying for those services here in the city."

The average cost for a standard ride to the hospital in an EMS ambulance, which is operated by the San Antonio Fire Department, is $900.

"I have been asked the question, why do we have to pay for EMS services, when we don't pay for other services of this type in the city.

Councilman John Courage said it isn't the ride patients are paying for, it is the skilled medical personnel who are part of that trip in the ambulance.

"You have EMS people who are keeping people alive in that vehicle," he said. "There is a lot of training and medical experience that is applied."

The city makes about $25 million a year from EMS transportation fees, money city officials point out goes to the operations of the Fire Department.

City officials say they charge for EMS largely because most health insurance plans and Medicare cover it, at least partly.

Perry says he wants to have a further conversation with Fire Department officials before the next budget cycle begins this summer.

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