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Ambulance rates going up in Chambersburg

February 28, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Ambulance fees in Chambersburg are going up for the first time since 2003, with basic life support services increasing $75 to $450.

"Each year, the ambulance service for Chambersburg becomes more expensive to run," Assistant Borough Manager David Finch said. As an example, he cited the $35 oxygen fee which is no longer reimbursed by Medicare.

The increases will bring the borough's fees in line with those charged by ambulance services outside the borough, Finch said. Despite the increases, he said the borough service is still heavily subsidized, with all fees and insurance reimbursements bringing in approximately $450,000 while the service will cost a projected $780,000 this year.

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The borough is also increasing the cost of calls requiring both basic life support and advanced life support. For advanced life support without a cardiac monitor, the rate is increasing $75 to $710, while advanced life support with a cardiac monitor will also increase $75 to $785.

Other fees, including an $8-per-mile mileage charge and the fee for oxygen, remain unchanged, according to a schedule of the service charges. For a person requiring treatment at the scene but not transport to a hospital, the fee is unchanged at $105 and treatment at the scene plus extrication remains $160, according to the fee schedule.

"Many people may only use an ambulance once in their life, but that one time may be a matter of life and death," Council President William McLaughlin said. He said it is necessary for the borough to maintain an ambulance service.

The higher fees are a "compelling reason" for people to consider paying the $65 annual fee for an ambulance service subscription, Councilwoman Elaine Swartz said. The ambulance service goes out on more than 3,000 calls a year inside and outside of the borough boundaries, she said.

The subscription fees covers everyone in a household as well as any person who is injured or becomes ill while visiting a subscriber's home, Councilman Robert Wareham said.

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