110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Hatfield
posted Feb 9, 2011 - 9:51:42am
EVAC’s contract with Volusia County got a two-year extension Feb. 3, giving the Volusia County Council time to study how it wants to handle emergency-medical transport in the future.
Since the 1980s, EVAC, a private foundation, has been providing ambulance service under contract with the county. The current contract had already been extended since last fall, and was to expire at the end of February.
EVAC hasn’t been able to break even on ambulance service, and the county has provided subsidies to keep EVAC operating, Deputy County Manager Mary Anne Connors told the County Council Feb. 3. She said Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements do not cover the cost of the services EVAC provides.
In October, the county approved a projected $1.5 million subsidy to fill the gap between Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and what EVAC says is the cost of services provided to patients who are dependent on those programs. The subsidy was part of EVAC’s $17.4 million budget.
At Thursday’s meeting, County Manager James Dinneen outlined options for emergency medical transport:
• It can be bid out to a private company.
• It can remain the “hybrid” it is today.
• The cities can provide some services.
• The county can provide all services.
Currently, EVAC has an exclusive contract with the county; fire departments aren’t allowed to transport victims. Over the years, Deltona and Daytona Beach have asked for permission to provide emergency transport, but more recently have backed off that request, Dinneen said. Daytona Beach has postponed a decision for another six months.
Also, a bill proposed in the Florida Legislature could limit the ability of municipalities to provide emergency transportation.
County Council Member Joyce Cusack said the council is moving in the direction it needs to go.
“It should not take two years,” she said.
Cusack said the EVAC matter can’t be separated from the question of whether to consolidate fire services countywide.
The county must talk with the cities, and determine what they want, Cusack said.
Council Member Carl Persis recommended asking the residents who pay for emergency services what they want, rather than asking elected officials.
County Chair Frank Bruno suggested setting up a summit with elected leaders of the cities, then later perhaps putting a nonbinding referendum on a ballot to get public opinion.
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