By T.J. Pyette
Ambulance fees for the city of Havre will increase if a proposal from Havre Fire Chief David Sheppard is approved by the City Council on Monday.
The council's finance committee voted unanimously to accept Sheppard's suggested rate increases at a meeting Monday night.
If approved by the City Council, transfers out of the city and county would see the biggest increase with the loaded mile fee raised from $4 per loaded mile to $7.
All transfer fees will be raised $50 and a current $50 supply charge will be dropped.
Basic service within the city limits would cost $250. It now costs $200 plus the $50 supply charge.
The loaded mile fee is billed for any service beyond five miles.
A basic transfer to a Great Falls facility now being billed at $690 plus a $50 supply fee would be $1,070 if the proposal passes.
Committee member Tom Farnham said the change is being considered to offset maintenance and upkeep expenses on the city's two new ambulances.
"We want to maintain a good line of equipment," Farnham said.
Committee member Dana West added, "The loaded mile increase will help pay for mileage wear and tear on the ambulances."
There is no loaded mile fee for transfers under five miles.
Sheppard said the reason he suggested the loaded mile fee be increased to $7 is because that is the amount allowed by Medicaid and Medicare.
"Most private insurances allow more," Sheppard added.
Medicaid and Medicare guidelines also spurred his suggestion to drop the $50 supply fee and increase the transfer fee by $50.
"At present, Medicare Medicaid is paying $4.37 of the $50 charge for supplies," wrote Sheppard in his proposal. "By dropping this charge completely and essentially transferring it to the transfer fee, our collection rate will be much better, while the cost to the patient would remain the same."