Montgomery County Rejects Fees for Ambulance Service

Hello, everybody! In case you noticed my absence over the last few weeks, I was away getting married and honeymooning. Now I am back at the blog, albeit a little tired from watching late election results last night.

But as they say, all politics is local. In Maryland, some jurisdictions charge for ambulance service, while others do not. For example, Baltimore City charges a $410 fee for ambulance service, while Baltimore County charges nothing.

In May, the Montgomery County Council approved a $400 fee for ambulance service to assist with a 13 million dollar budget gap. After a trip to the Court of Appeals of Maryland and back, opponents of the fee could get the issue on the general election ballot for a referendum. Yesterday, Montgomery County residents voted against allowing the county to continue to charge fees for ambulance service.

From a personal injury lawyer’s perspective, this is probably a good thing for injury victims. Although there is an argument that charging a fee for ambulance service would lead to higher damages claims and possibly higher recoveries, I think that ignores the big picture. Having no fee for ambulance service helps victims in many ways.

First, people are more likely to seek the care they need if they are not concerned about being billed. Moreover, clients will be able to use Personal Injury Protection funds to replace lost wages or pay for other necessary medical care. Where health insurance pays for medical treatment, the lien to be repaid will be $400 smaller. Overall, this will help victims survive until they can resolve their claims, and will let them keep more of their recovery. A good thing.

Plus, why should the county charge for emergency services we pay taxes for anyway? Kudos to the citizens of Montgomery County for rejecting a new fee that would do the most harm to the least fortunate.