Paramedical services

Administrative Service Director Jennifer Christensen presents in front of Banning City Council.

Insurance companies of people who receive paramedic services within the city of Banning may soon be billed an emergency medical services program fee.

The city sees it as a “no-brainer” to make revenue without imposing an additional tax on residents, Administrative Service Director Jennifer Christensen says.

The fee would not be paid by Banning property owners.

Banning is basing its program on ones already implemented in Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells.

In those cities, fees are waived beyond what their insurance companies do not pay, and each city has an empathetic hardship waiver for those without insurance, in which case participating cities write off those debts.

Assuming that the city has roughly 4,000 medical response calls — the approximation Christensen gave the Record Gazette, it would easily add at least $400,000 to the city’s coffers after costs of program administration are factored in.

Banning is looking to mirror Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert, and less so that of Indian Wells, which makes exceptions for “family members” of city residents to receive the benefit of their insurance companies not being billed, which could create more confusion and add complexity to administration than it could be worth.

The city has been directed to go forward with establishing a program that will allow the city to create a program to allow the city to bill insurance companies for paramedic services received within city limits.

“Since everyone in California is supposed to have medical insurance, the fee is a covered benefit with most insurance plans,” according to City Manager Doug Schulze. “If insurance does not cover the fee, or the individual does not pay the fee, the city will not pursue collection and the debt will be written off.”

According to Christensen, the city’s contract with CalFire, who provides paramedic services to the city, allows the city to offset its expenses to help pay for third party billing.

The fee will not apply to responses from ambulance services such as AMR.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net, or messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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