Monday, June 11, 2012

Assault on Private Business, Taxpayers, Insurance Buyers

Three recent stories in the OD:
Utica’s ambulance controversy becomes state issue
Utica fire officials urge state lawmakers on ambulance law
Proposed state law could end fight over Utica ambulance service

Changing the law to exempt municipalities from having to show a public need to run an ambulance service is a terrible idea.

First, it opens the doors in many places to government competing directly with existing private businesses in many communities.  Do we really want to encourage expansion of the roll of government?

Second, since government is almost never as efficiently run as private businesses, undoubtedly the taxpayers are going to wind up paying for some of this.  In the case of Utica, we have yet to see a complete accounting for what the ambulance service is costing taxpayers, particularly in the areas of overtime and increased cost to cover increased pensions generated by more overtime. Of course the fire department will support this!

Third, at least in the case of Utica according to news reports, charges to insurance companies for ambulance services have been significantly higher than what is being charged by the private ambulance service.  This will result in increased health insurance rates for the region.

The proposed law is anti-business and will wind up costing taxpayers and health insurance buyers more money.


Anonymous said...

It has to be a given that the cost of the city providing the service is higher. Municipal fire department salaries and fring benefits must be higher than that of a private company. And, since labor is the highest cost component in the mix,a higher cost arises.One would guess that the only way Utica may make money on the deal is if the user pays a much higher rate. If this is true, either insurance, government health care programs or the patient pays more. The net of the "more" benefits the city budget. But, it is a smoke and mirrors benefit to citizens in general. The state will simply be contributing to overall cost escalation if the system is made easier to institute. The end result is that the taxpayer loses.But, that probably will not matter in New York.

Anonymous said...

You are missing an even greater problem with this change:

Lets say there is an ambulance service that covers 1 municipality (city or village) and then four "towns" that surround that municipality. For lack of a better example we will use Amcare in Rome - who also covers Floyd, Lake Delta, Westernville, and Taberg.*

Lets say that municipality says - "Wow, we can make money off of creating an ambulance service" - and then goes out and forms their own service and then gets all the calls in the municipality. This change leads to two things - the municipality receives a bunch of money and the previous ambulance agency looses 40% of the calls it once responded to and 60% of its revenue stream.

Thus by the municipality creating its own service without proving that there is a need the previous agency has a massive strain on its own budget. In the case of our example - Amcare in Rome - that would mean that they are unable to hire as many people and continue to have the latest technology/equipment. This will lead into them being unable to provide a proper response to the towns of Floyd, Lake Delta, Westernville, and Taberg. Calls will have to get flipped to other agencies, response times will increase, lastly there is a possibility that Amcare would have to close its doors and an entire population would be without ambulance coverage.

Yes the municipality will still have its ambulance - and more revenue - but in the process the surrounding towns get screwed over. In a business where response times, equipment, and personal save lives how much do these municipalities put on a persons life?

Now the towns that surround Utica are lucky because Kunkel is able to survive without responding to the calls in the city - they may even be making more money without it - but Kunkel is only one of the many ambulance services, each one existing in a different situation, that relies upon municipalities for its survival.

*I don't know if this is their true district and furthermore their budget or anything else about them as this is for example proposes.

Dave said...

Pretty cut and dry in my mind. The only time our government servants should attempt entry into the private marketplace is when a necessary service is not being provided. Or there is a compelling reason,such as private businesses not offering a very necessary service for anywhere near a reasonable fee. Neither of these conditions apply in your ambulance situation in Utica. What you basically have is a government desperate for grants and revenue because they have misspent elsewhere. That is government out of control.