Dixon council hikes ambulance transportation charge

DIXON – The Dixon City Council has approved a request from the city’s fire chief to increase the cost of an ambulance ride.

The cost for an ambulance transport had been $1,000; it will increase to $1,500 per ride based on action taken by the council at its most recent regular meeting.

Before the vote, Dixon Fire Chief Ryan Buskohl said the last increase was in the fall of 2019 and the hike is needed because of escalating operating costs.

“Operating costs have increased significantly over the past year,” he said.

As for the impact the increase will have on Dixon residents, Buskohl said the city would accept what Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance will pay and would not ask for anything more from a patient. He said the amount paid by those with private insurance coverage would vary based on whether the patient’s deductible had been met.

Buskohl also asked for an automatic increase in rates each year based on an annual report he sends to the state each August. The report, which goes to the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services, accurately shows the per-transport cost by detailing the amount of money spent by the department the previous fiscal year and the number of ambulance runs, he said.

The annual report points to whether an increase is needed, Buskohl said.

“It does help minimize these large jumps,” he said of increases. “Obviously, I’ve been keeping an eye on the rates the last four years, but it hasn’t been enough to take action until recently. As you all know we’ve added staff, which increases our operating expenses. That’s the majority of the driving force for the increased rates.”

Council member Mary Oros asked whether automatic increases were standard practice for other departments.

Buskohl said he does know of other departments that do an automatic increase, but some options include a set percentage increase or an increase based on the Consumer Price Index.

“In my opinion this is the best option,” Buskohl said of using the report’s data to determine the increase.

But some council members were not comfortable with an increase automatically going into effect each year and instead wanted to ensure they would be able to take action on increases based on the report.

Council member Chris Bishop applauded using the report’s data to annually adjust rates. Council member Dennis Considine said he wanted the increase to be brought in front of the council each year.

“I’d feel better if it wasn’t ka-ching without discussion every year,” Considine said.

The council on a 5-0 vote approved the increase as well as a requirement that rate adjustments have to be brought before the council for approval.

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.