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Police and Fire News

Baltimore County Police and Fire News

Official News Blog of Baltimore County police, fire, homeland security and emergency management. Call 911 to report crimes in progress and emergencies.
Keyword: service

The Baltimore County Fire Department plans to begin recouping patient transport costs from private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid and investing those funds in public resources.

A proposal to begin billing and collecting funds for emergency medical  transports from private insurers, Medicaid and Medicare is scheduled for County Council discussion on July 28 and a Council vote on August 3. The proposal includes contracting with MED3000 Inc., a Pittsburgh-based health care management company, to handle billing and collection.

Across Maryland and the nation, such billing and collection has become a standard, accepted part of Fire administration and an important mechanism for offsetting the costs of medical transport. In Maryland, Calvert and Baltimore counties are the only jurisdictions that do not charge insurers for transport fees or levy a fire tax to help cover the cost of such transports. EMS service accounts for the overwhelming majority of calls received by fire departments.

Baltimore County residents will not be personally responsible for paying for ambulance transport as a result of this change. Residents without insurance, residents with insurance co-pays and residents whose insurers refuse to pay for transport will not be responsible for transport fees; their local tax dollars will be considered payment toward the fee.

“No county resident will pay one penny out of his or her own pocket for ambulance service,” said Fire Chief John J. Hohman.

The County will seek payment for emergency transport from non-county residents and their insurance companies. However, no resident or non-resident should ever hesitate to call 911 in a medical emergency; no one will be denied transport based on ability to pay.

Millions in New Revenue

County officials estimate that the new transport fees – levied on approximately 85,000 medical calls annually – may generate as much as $26 million per year in future years, after the program is fully implemented. This revenue will be placed in the County’s general fund.

The program is scheduled to begin September 1.

 The County’s 33 volunteer fire companies – especially the 21 companies that provide medical service – will benefit from the transport fees. The BCVFA and BCoFD plan to develop a revenue sharing program in which transport fee funds will help companies that provide medical service cover reasonable EMS-related operating expenses.  The fees will benefit the companies that do not provide EMS service by freeing up other funds for maintenance, equipment, fuel and training.

In a recent report, the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association strongly endorsed billing insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare for emergency transport.

How the Transport Fees Will Work

The new fees will be $700 or $750 per transport, depending upon the level of care required. In addition, private health insurers, Medicare and Medicaid will be billed $10 per mile of transport.

Other important information:

  • The new fees will be levied only when a patient is transported by medic to a hospital; EMS calls that do not involve transport will not involve a fee. Patients who refuse transport will sign a form documenting their refusal.
  • All patients will be transported regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.
  • No payment will be collected at the time of transport, and EMS responders will not seek patient insurance information. EMS responders will obtain authorization to bill the patient’s insurer along with permission to transport. After transport, the contractor, MED3000, will work with the hospital to obtain the patient’s information.
  • Non-county residents who use Baltimore County EMS transport will be billed for transport fees not covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. The County will seek collection of these fees.
  • MED3000 customer service representatives will handle questions or concerns about billing and insurance related to medical transport.

MED3000 will receive about 4 percent of the amount collected based on the annual average cost per transport.

This is the text of Police Chief Jim Johnson's Police Memorial Day message delivered this morning at the annual Police Memorial Ceremony at Patriot Plaza in Towson.

******

Good morning, everyone. Today we gather, as we do each year on the second Friday in May, to remember the nine members of the Baltimore County Police Department family who have given their lives in service to others.

Their names are inscribed on our hearts and in our memories, just as they are on the monument before us. This is a time to recollect who these men were as people – their smiles … their unique personalities … their attributes as husbands, fathers, sons and friends.

Mostly, of course, this is a time to reflect on their sacrifice and of the selflessness of others like them, including the two NYPD officers murdered last December by a man who began his path of violence here in our county. They were targeted simply because they were policemen. In ordinary times, we focus on the honor of such sacrifice – on the awe-inspiring wonder of human beings brave and generous enough to die for others.

But these are not ordinary times. We find ourselves caught up in a storm of controversy over the role of law enforcement in 21st century society. The fires of discontent that blazed last summer in a Midwestern town have spread to our own doorstep. Baltimore – the city to which we are tethered by history and geography and our own personal experiences – now is the epicenter of a furious national debate about police and our relationships with the communities we serve. Over the past two weeks, you have been part of these historic events. You have gone above and beyond to protect lives and property while enforcing the rule of law – all while surrounded by distraught and angry voices questioning the integrity of law enforcement officers everywhere.

This is not the place to dissect and debate the complex issues woven into the national conversation on policing. It is, however, the place to confront the emotions and doubts that current events may have stirred.

It is the right time to ask: Does our work still matter? Is our profession still respected? Does the sacrifice of our own fallen officers still matter to our citizens? Would our sacrifice matter?

Each of us took this job because we believed in something bigger than ourselves – because we believed that a safe and orderly society is worth fighting for. Do we still believe it?

Despite the complicated relationship between law enforcement and the public, we have been fortunate to enjoy the people’s good will for a long time, and especially in the years following the 9/11 attacks. Even recently, polls measuring the most and least respected professions consistently show police officers among the “top 10” respected jobs. People are so interested in the work we do that they stop us in grocery stores and restaurants to talk about it. Today, this ceremony will be broadcast through the media with a tone of reverence and respect.

Perhaps we have grown accustomed to such regard, perhaps a bit too much. The oath we swear is not conditional.

We agree to serve and protect regardless of which way the winds of public opinion blow. We serve, not for tokens of esteem, but because cruelty and selfishness exist in the world and must be fought. We serve because lawlessness leads inevitably to the breakdown of civilization.

More than this, we swear to serve all – not just those who hold us in esteem, but all. I know how hard this is. It is easy to work on behalf of those who admire us, whose values mirror our own. But we are called to protect all, including those who do not admire us, including those whose values do not mirror our own. We are required to treat all with respect; all – including those who do not respect the law, or us.

Despite the noise and negativity of the past weeks and months, I am confident that the overwhelming majority of our citizens appreciate the work we do and trust us to do the right thing. You have worked hard to earn that trust, and we hear expressions of gratitude week in and week out. Today, people across Baltimore County watch us laying wreaths and agree with all their hearts that the officers we remember were heroes.

Edward Kuznar … Charles Huckeba … Samuel Snyder … Robert Zimmerman … Bruce Prothero … John Stem … Mark Parry … Michael Howe … and Jason Schneider. Their sacrifice still matters.

From wherever they are, they remind us that ours is a just and noble cause, worth fighting for and, yes, worth dying for. I hope that this admonition sustains us through the difficult days ahead.

A memorial service honoring 42 members of the Baltimore County Fire Service who have died over the past year will be held Sunday, September 28.

The ceremony will be held at Towson United Methodist Church, 501 Hampton Lane, Towson, Maryland. It will begin at 6:30 p.m.

This annual memorial ceremony honors career and volunteer firefighters, emergency medical personnel, ladies’ auxiliary members and other fire service members who passed away during the year.

Fire Chief John Hohman is scheduled to attend and participate in laying a wreath to honor the members lost during the past year.

Remembering Firefighter Robert Fogle III, Others

This year, the Fire Service remembers 22 career and 20 volunteer members, including FADO Robert Fogle III, a 27-year veteran of the Baltimore County Fire Department, stationed at Pikesville Station 2. He also volunteered for more than 30 years at Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company, and was a past member of Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company.

Photo of Baltimore County Fire Memorial Shrine

Photo of the Baltimore County Fire Memorial Shrine.

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