Blue Light Special: How Much Is an Ambulance Ride Worth in DC?

Double what it was worth yesterday, according to this Examiner article.

First, there's the new mileage charge of $6.06, due to go into effect mid-next month (now we know why it's "The Cruelest").

If we hear stories of ambulances diverting to hospitals further away to up city revenue I will lose all faith in humanity.

Also, is it any coincidence residents in east Anacostia, a lower-income portion of the city, will have to travel the furthest for emergency care, and thus incur the largest fees?

Perverse healthcare payment incentives strike again - charge the population least able to pay the most for the ride.

Ambulance rides are usually charged to private insurers (HMOs), or Medicaid, but guess who eats the bill if someone needs or wants a medical taxi?

Mayor Fenty upped basic life support rides from $268 to $530, ALS trips from $471 to $832, and a super-duper ALS 2 ride will now set you (or your fellow taxpayers) back $953.

You could argue that we're finally beginning to pay ambulance crews what they're really worth, but the truth is most of the money is netted by the District of Columbia - to the tune of $7.2M in projected revenues.

The other interesting thing about this legislation, sort of like Martha Stewart's big stock deal, is the timing...Mayor Fenty signed this piece just before a new law requiring council approval for ambulance fee revisions goes into effect.

But fees in DC hadn't been adjusted in 5 years, and were apparently quite a steal compared to other cities' rates. Plus, the Mayor is running a fiscally responsible city here, and DC has new schools to fund.

He's running the city like a business, and the revenues have to come from somewhere...I'd just like to see some concurrent news that a portion of that windfall will go to more ambulance equipment, staff bonuses and raises, and increased benefits packages.

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