Mayor Chris Beutler today said the City's Emergency Medical Service (EMS) fund finished the 2008-2009 fiscal year with a $629,995 profit. It is the third consecutive year that the fund has reported a positive year-end balance. The City finished the 2007-2008 fiscal year with a $328,260 profit in the EMS fund, and the 2006-2007 fiscal year with an $84,863 EMS balance.
Lincoln residents already know that they are receiving outstanding emergency medical care from Lincoln Fire and Rescue," said Mayor Beutler. "The ambulance service has now turned around its financial situation to become a sustainable operation. This is the result of leadership and hard work. Lincoln Fire and Rescue involved other City departments and members of the community to take an honest look at the operation and make necessary changes.
City Finance Director Don Herz said if the positive trend continues, an EMS interfund loan from the City's General Fund could be eliminated in the current fiscal year, which ends August 31. Lincoln Fire and Rescue began operating the ambulance service in 2001. Start-up costs and reimbursement issues caused the interfund loan to peak at $2.016 million in December 2007. The interfund loan balance is now about $691,000, the lowest balance since 2002.
Fire Chief Niles Ford said many changes recommended by a 2006 ad hoc committee were implemented, including a rate increase in 2007.
We are very fortunate because ambulance services - both public and private - continue to struggle financially across the nation," Ford said. "Federal Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates continue to lag behind costs and are still a concern. We must continue to be diligent in looking for ways to control costs in the long-term without compromising the quality of our service.
The City is now in the second year of a contract with Lancaster County to provide ambulance service outside the City limits, and Ford said cooperation with the County has been very successful. The City also has contracted with private ambulance companies to provide stand-by services at events, but Ford said he has not yet seen the impact of that change.