By Roger Ball
The Arizona Fire & Medical Authority governing board voted May 28 to begin a new system of ambulance subscriptions and terminate their resident subsidy program, effective July 1.
Residents in the AFMA districts, including Sun City West, are not billed for the difference between the billing charge and what insurance pays for an ambulance ride.
At the May 26 AMA governing board meeting Deputy Chief Rob Helie reported the authority responded to 1,056 calls for emergency medical services. This is 80 percent of the total calls for the month, and 683 of them required ambulance transportation.
The governing boards of the two fire districts in the AFMA, North County Fire & Medical District and South County Fire & Medical District, filed paperwork in October 2017 with the Arizona Department of Health Services to provide an ambulance subscription plan. Under the plan, each participating household would pay $75 per year that would cover all insurance co-pay costs for resident ambulance trips.
In March 2018 AFMA authorities reported for multiple reasons, including cost of equipment, smaller payments from insurance and larger number of calls, the authority is losing several hundred thousand dollars in operating costs every year for providing ambulance service.Authority officials filed an application with the Arizona Department of Health Services for the membership program in 2017.
State officials had up to 450 days to respond to the application, and May 7, 2018 determined that the application was administratively complete.
The Authority expects to receive approval very soon.
“Not everyone would want this,” said Robb Biscoe, AFMA chief. “Some have insurance that covers the copay, or their deductible is so small it wouldn’t be worthwhile. “The person who uses ambulance services a lot during the year and doesn’t have full insurance would benefit the most.”
When the plan was first announced AFMA board President David Wilson pointed out that though state law stipulates tax money can be used for fire and medical services, that does not include transportation.
More in depth information on this can be found in the current issue of the Sun City West Independent.