Sharp increase in requested fees has Camden-area towns reconsidering EMS options

Posted March 04, 2013, at 7:28 p.m.

CAMDEN, Maine — The four towns served by the Camden First Aid Association are expected to weigh their options after the organization’s request last week for sharply higher payments.

Camden First Aid met on Feb. 27 with representatives of Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville and Hope to discuss its request.

For Camden, its annual payment to the association for emergency medical services would jump from the $20,000 approved last year to a proposed $174,000 for 2013-2014.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the Camden Select Board will consider authorizing Town Manager Patricia Finnigan to work with the other managers whose towns are served by Camden First Aid to “look at a range of options and recommendations to ensure mid-

coast residents continue to have reliable, high quality emergency medical services

available to them.”

The options would include:

• Considering immediate, near-term steps that can be taken to help the Camden First Aid Association reach financial stability.

• Recommending an analysis of the impact of funding the Camden First Aid Association at the proposed level on this year’s budget and future years.

• Requesting proposals for emergency medical services.

• Developing a different organizational structure for the Camden First Aid Association.

• Creating a regional or individual town-owned/operated EMS service.

Rockport interim Town Manager Roger Moody said Rockport’s cost would increase from $24,000 to $129,000 under the association’s proposal.

Moody, who was appointed two weeks ago, said he has not yet presented the proposed municipal budget to the Select Board. Moody said it was too early to know whether that funding will be proposed. He said more information was needed.

Moody also said he expected to work with the other town managers to consider alternatives.

Moody acknowledged the $24,000 paid by the town seemed pretty low.

Lincolnville pays $10,000 and Hope $2,000. Lincolnville would see an increase of about $67,000 and Hope a hike of about $25,000.

Steve Corson, chairman of the Camden First Aid Association board, last November made a plea to area residents and businesses asking for donations to help the organization through its own emergency.

Corson was not available for comment Monday but in November he said a new board and donations helped the organization get through an earlier fiscal crisis, but serious cash flow problems remained.

He had pointed out that the service is paid less than it costs to provide service, particularly with Medicare and MaineCare.

North East Mobile Health Services Chief Kevin McGinnis said Monday that North East is interested in making an offer to the four towns for emergency medical services. He said the private company provides 911 medical services to Richmond, Bowdoinham, Dresden and Woolwich as well as transport services to nursing homes and hospitals such as Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport and Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast.

McGinnis said that North East would provide emergency medical services at the same cost that is being charged now to the four towns.

McGinnis stated in a letter to the towns that Camden First Aid’s proposed option of the towns taking over management of the service still requires the towns to pay the increased subsidy to help cover apparent bad decisions by past management. He stated that should be the service’s issue, not the towns’.

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