Ambulance rides could get more costly

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SAN DIEGO — The cost of riding in an ambulance in the city of San Diego could rise soon, under a proposal given tentative approval today by the City Council’s Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee.

The committee unanimously passed a one-year extension of the city’s emergency medical services contract with Rural/Metro Ambulance, a private company that works with several cities in the region.

Ambulance Arrives at HospitalThe proposed deal, which if passed by the full City Council, would go into effect with the beginning of the new fiscal year July 1 and run through June 2014, includes an option to renew for a second year.

According to a report from the mayor’s office, the extension would allow Rural/Metro to increase its average per-ride charge to patients from $1,761 to $1,820.

City EMS Program Manager Alyssa Ross said that since the quoted rates are an average, patients would see varying charges somewhere in that ballpark.

The hike would help Rural/Metro offset a 3.35 percent rise in fees the company would have to pay the city. The proposed extension would keep most of the other provisions and service levels from the original deal signed in 2011.

The city and ambulance company formed a partnership in 2009, but it was dissolved two years later amid legal and financial difficulties. Rural/Metro continued as the city’s ambulance provider under a subsequent contract, which is due to expire at the end of this month.

The city plans to put ambulance and emergency medical services out for competitive bidding, but the process isn’t ready yet, according to a report to the committee.

The report said the mayor’s office wanted extra time to study the city’s relationship to Rural/Metro, including the impact of proposed legislation that could affect emergency medical services.

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