CSD Fire receiving boost in federal funds

  ·  Cameron Macdonald, Elk Grove Citizen   ·   Link to Article

New funds to offset Medi-Cal costs

Fire departments are obligated to treat emergency medical patients regardless of their insurance carrier.

However, the state’s Medi-Cal service often falls short in funding for their patients’ ambulance transport. Local agencies like the Cosumnes Fire Department end up losing money whenever they transport a Medi-Cal patient.

Cosumnes Fire Chief Tracey Hansen gave a situation where Medi-Cal pays $130 for an ambulance trip, but her agency still faces costs of over $1,000 for that one trip.

“The return is a fraction of the cost of services,” she said.

Assemblyman and State Senate candidate Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) announced on Sept. 9 that $6 million in federal funding will help compensate local fire departments for serving Medi-Cal patients. He authored Assembly Bill 678 in 2011, which aims to direct more federal funds to California’s fire departments. New revenue began funding the Cosumnes, Sacramento, and Sacramento Metropolitan fire departments.

Their fire chiefs joined Pan when he held a press conference at the Sacramento fire station on I Street.

“During the economic downturn, our fire departments were hit hard with budget cuts that threatened to shut down stations and put all of us in danger,” he said in a press statement.

Pan criticized the Medi-Cal system for underpaying fire departments.

“Medi-Cal is such a poor payer, they didn’t pay the actual costs of ambulance transportation,” he told the Citizen.

Cosumnes Fire received $1 million in new federal funds this year. Hansen said they are expecting $250,000 every year to help reimburse service costs.

Pan plans to host another press conference on the fire department funds in Elk Grove on Oct. 1.