COLLEGE PLACE — At a workshop Wednesday, City Council members agreed more information is needed on how to deal with a city of Walla Walla request for ambulance service funding.

“This will (involve) several council meetings and discussions ... There’s a lot of moving parts,” Mayor Harvey Crowder said.

During the workshop city Fire Chief David Winter discussed the details and economics of providing ambulance service with Crowder and Council members Heather Schermann, Larry Dickerson, Jerry Lee Bobbitt and Marge Nyhagen. Absent were Council members Melodie Selby, Loren Peterson and Michael Cleveland.

Schermann said she would “like to see a bigger picture” of what would be involved with providing ambulance services and Bobbitt said he had questions about what are the needs of the citizens of College Place and what was the history of providing the service.

Winter told Council members that Walla Walla “is at a point where they are not collecting as much revenue as they are billing and according to them it is causing a budget shortfall in their annual service.”

Winter said there have been two meetings with Walla Walla city officials and they have asked for the city to “think about budgeting for next year money to help offset what they losing by providing service to our residents.”

“They are hoping we could come to some sort of an agreement or terms so that they could base their budget on it and we could base our budget on it,” he said.

The amount Walla Walla is seeking from College Place is about $68,000 to provide advanced life support ambulance service to College Place, Winter said. Along with College Place, Walla Walla has also requested funding assistance from the eight fire districts in Walla Walla County.

College Place has applied to the state for a basic life support transport license to reduce the amount of transports Walla Walla provides, but the city has not received that license yet. The city has also contacted American Medical Response, a national company that provides medical transport and related services.

Winter said he could not provide any “numbers that would commit myself too” on the city creating its own ambulance service. The city “has not run an ambulance service in College Place since 1989 and it would be very hard to project hard numbers,” he said.

“The hope, if we chose to do some or all of our own transports from College Place, is that we could break even,” Winter told Council members.

No one sees the ambulance service as a “moneymaker ... because of how Medicaid reimburses, how Medicare reimburses, how insurance reimburses. Those are varying scales and they don’t necessarily pay what we think they should pay and they don’t care how much it costs you to deliver the service ... this is what they are going to pay,” he said. “So that makes it a it a little hard to say ‘This is a hard number (for) the future.’”

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.

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