From AP - News Headlines -

Cities Contemplate Big Fee Increases to Ambulance Companies

Champaign and Urbana are both considering massive increases in the license fees they charge to the area's two ambulance companies.

If the increases are approved, Carle-Arrow Ambulance and Pro Ambulance would each pay a total of $35,000 a year to operate in Champaign and Urbana. Currently, they pay less than $300 apiece.

Officials from the two cities say they need the increase to cover the cost of Fire Department emergency medical personnel who go out with each ambulance call. Champaign Assistant City Manager Dorothy David says they expect the patients' insurance companies to ultimately foot the bill.

"The city will charge the fee directly to the ambulance companies," said David, "but the ambulance companies then will build that into their billing structure when they go out on a call and actually bill their cost back to an insurance company."

But officials with the ambulance companies say many emergency patients don't have insurance or are otherwise unable to pay the present ambulance fee. They say the proposal needs more discussion, and more discussion seems likely. While both city councils are considering the idea this week as part of overall revisions to their fee schedule, neither body will make a final decision until they pass their budgets later in the spring. Urbana city officials say they'll only raise ambulance license fees if Champaign does the same.

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