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Saratoga ambulance rates hold steady, for now

Mayor Scott Johnson questions the urgency of a meeting called Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Scott Johnson questions the urgency of a meeting called Thursday afternoon. Photo by Julie Cushine-Rigg.

Saratoga Springs leaders at an emergency meeting Thursday, Feb. 2, decided the Saratoga Springs Fire Department will take over ambulance at the same rates SaratogaEmergency Medical Services had been charging — for the time being, at least.

The council met in anticipation of SEMS not being able to provide the service asearly as 8 a.m. the following day. It has been speculated recently that SEMS, anonprofit that has been providing service to the city, would cease to be inbusiness at that time.

The suddenness of the meeting was a point of contention, however. Phil Diamond, a city resident, was one of three residents who attended the meeting and had acouple of questions during the public comment period.

“Why the rush, why did we call this meeting for 5 o’clock today, why couldn’t it wait until the regular Tuesday meeting? There is an urgency that I feel is fabricated. When people rush to push something through they’re usually afraid of scrutiny. I hope that’s not the case here,” he said.

His second question concerned the net profit to the city, not about the fee increases.

Diamond wasn’t the only one questioning the urgency of calling an emergency meeting. Mayor Scott Johnson and Accounts Commissioner John Franck also expressed concern for the rush, and repeatedly pointed out that the public wasn’t given adequate notice about the meeting. Johnson and Franck directed their concerns directly to Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen.

Mathiesen said, “I apologize for having to gather you together for this meeting… It’s amatter of housekeeping to establish a fee structure for services that will beprovided.”

Issues were raised concerning reimbursement and payments for emergency calls from private insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medicaid. The proposedr ates going into the meeting were higher than what SEMS was charging and,according to Mathiesen, “In need of upgrading.”

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