Amid calls for continuity from city leaders, the Spokane City Council approved a four-year contract with American Medical Response for ambulance services on Monday.
The new agreement maintains the significant price hike hesitantly approved by council members under a one-year bridge contract last year.
The private ambulance company’s negotiated rates in the city of Spokane remain 28% higher than they were just two years ago, but Spokane Fire Department leaders recommended that the city stick with AMR.
Administration officials argued that the rates charged by AMR for ambulance transport in the city of Spokane are comparable to those negotiated in other cities across the Pacific Northwest.
The base price of a level one advanced life support, or ALS, ambulance ride in Spokane is $975, compared to $1,220 in Tacoma, $903 in the Kittitas Valley and $857.39 in Spokane County.
Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer noted that some cities lower rates by directing taxpayer funds to support the service upfront; Spokane does not. Most Spokane residents are covered by private insurance or a program like Medicare or Medicaid, which negotiate costs directly with AMR, according to city officials.
The City Council balked when presented with a long-term deal last year due to the uncertainty brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and price increases included in the deal. It instead approved a one-year agreement, which was set to expire on May 31.
The alternative options were for the city to rebid the contract and seek a new provider or begin the extensive process to begin providing ambulance transportation through its own fire department.
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