The following article was written by Nick Marnell for The Lamorinda Weekly. Click here to read the The Lamorinda Weekly article in its entirety.
Supervisors Award ConFire County Ambulance Contract
The Board of Supervisors July 21 authorized the county Health Services Director to execute a 5-year contract with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District to provide emergency ambulance transport service in most of Contra Costa County starting in January. ConFire, with its subcontracting partner American Medical Response, the current county ambulance transport contractor, will provide ambulance service to the portions of the county not served by the Moraga-Orinda Fire District and the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, which provide their own ambulance transport service.
The deal comes with its risks, as pointed out by Stewart Gary of public safety consultant Citygate Associates, LLC. Ambulance revenues have fallen nationally from an average of 66 percent of the amounts billed to 26.5 percent recently. The Alliance projects revenue collection rates of 24.5 percent, largely due to the uncertainties of government reimbursements and the Affordable Care Act. “And your revenue rates may not be at rock bottom,” said Gary. “It may be several years before they are.”
Since the Alliance did not figure any supplemental governmental revenue into its financial assumptions, the net gain to ConFire after year one was projected at $1.9 million on revenue of $39 million; but $9 million of ConFire’s cash reserves will be needed to cover the early cash flow losses. Also under this groundbreaking paradigm, the economic responsibility of the ambulance transport plan shifts from the private contractor, AMR, to the taxpayers of the fire district.