Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leggett Speaks Out on Ambulance Fee Ballot Question

County Executive Ike Leggett sent out this message on the ambulance fee ballot question through the county government's email subscription service.

October 28, 2010

Dear County Resident:

I want to inform you of an important issue facing the County that could have an adverse impact on every County resident.

Many of you are aware that the November ballot will contain County Question A. The Question gives voters the opportunity to decide whether County Council Bill 13-10: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Fee, which passed in May, should remain law.

Under the law, the County would be allowed to recover ambulance transport costs from premiums already paid to insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid -- $14 million this year and $170 million over the next 10 years. All revenues would be dedicated, by law, to strengthen our Fire & Rescue Service. No County resident will ever get a bill for ambulance transport, co-pays or deductibles -- whether they have insurance or not.

The Montgomery Fire & Rescue Service will continue to serve anybody in need, regardless of ability to pay – whether rich or poor or in-between, whether County resident or not. Just like now. Nothing will change – except that our Fire & Rescue Service will have more resources in meet critical future needs for staffing, equipment, and to improve EMS response times.

Nearly every jurisdiction in the Washington region collects millions of dollars in ambulance reimbursements from insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid – with no adverse effects. (Click here to see the Washington Post story on Thursday, “Area Fire Chiefs Back Ambulance Fee: 911 Calls Unaffected”.)

Our neighbors are using those resources to save lives – and Montgomery County should do the same. We cannot afford to leave this money on the table.

The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County agrees. So too does the Montgomery County Fire Fighters and Paramedics, Local 1664. Click here to see editorials in the Washington Post and in The Gazette newspapers supporting County ambulance reimbursement.

There are basically three choices:

1. Approve ambulance reimbursement from insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid to bring in $14 million this year and $170 million over the next ten years;

2. Reduce critical County services, including public safety; or

3. Increase taxes.

I choose the first option. It just makes sense.

As I travel around the County, I meet many residents who have asked for facts and accurate information on the EMS Transport Fee. For more information, you can go to

Whatever your perspective, please vote in the upcoming general elections as they are critical to our ability to maintain Montgomery County as the special place it is today to live, work, play, and age with dignity. In addition to voting in person on Tuesday, November 2 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at your polling location, you may vote by absentee ballot. Absentee ballot request forms can be downloaded here and must be returned by October 26, 2010.

This year, for the first time, you may cast your vote at any one of the Early Voting Centers in the County between Friday, October 22 and Thursday, October 28 from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. (except Sunday, October 24). I urge you to consider joining the thousands of County voters who will be taking advantage of this highly efficient means of carrying out our civic duty.


Ike Leggett
County Executive