City of Lincoln
2007 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler today said the indication that the City’s EMS fund will finish the 2006-2007 fiscal year in the black "takes the City another step closer to putting the ambulance controversies of the past truly behind us." In a report to the City Council, City Finance Director Don Herz said the initial analysis of the net income from the EMS fund shows that it will show a small profit for the year.
"The recent rate increases have been important to this turnaround, but that does not tell the whole story," said Beutler. "Very few cities across the nation – including those with private ambulance providers – are making any profit on EMS. We are fortunate that the leadership of Lincoln Fire and Rescue made the necessary changes, including a strong effort to control costs, to put this fund in a strong financial position. The department has accomplished this without compromising the outstanding medical care being provided every day."
Herz said a final report for the last fiscal year, which ended August 31, will be available in a few months. He said the delay is largely the result of insurance procedures. Herz said he based his projections of a small profit on the collection rates the department has been experiencing the last few months.
Fire Chief Niles Ford said the changes recommended by an ad hoc committee last year have been largely implemented and have helped bring greater financial stability to the EMS fund.
"I am impressed with the improvement so far," said Ford. "But we will continue to face challenges, including ongoing changes in the health care industry. We must continue to work together to find long-term solutions to those challenges. Our goal remains the same: to provide outstanding service in a cost-effective manner."
Ford said one of the major issues nationwide is federal Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates. Those rates continue to fall behind the actual cost of the services, resulting in a funding gap of about $2 million for the local EMS fund last year.
The City’s response to emergencies outside City limits also is being examined. It is estimated that having the City ready to respond to calls in the County is costing about $180,000 per year. Beutler recently sent a letter to the County Board proposing that the County reimburse the City for one-third of that cost until the end of this fiscal year. That would give the rural fire districts time to work out a plan for a new emergency response system that meets the County’s service needs and the City’s financial needs. Beutler said efforts also continue to find a role for a private ambulance provider in some of the City’s ambulance stand-by events.
"Throughout these changes, the men and women of Lincoln Fire and Rescue have continued to do an excellent job, and they deserve our appreciation," said Mayor Beutler.