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Wednesday, October 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Shawn Vestal: Lopez-AMR contract kerfuffle raises questions

Before the courts slapped down the mayor’s attempt to expand political appointments in the city’s hiring, one handpicked hire snuck through the gate. That appointment – the hiring of Mike Lopez as head of EMS services – illustrates the problems built into the entire approach. Lopez was hired without a competitive process. He was hired before his position had even formally been created. His hiring was justified by a bureaucratic rigmarole – title-shuffling and department-creating – and placed in a Catch-22 type of category, which Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer described in an internal email as a “civilian EMS Chief that isn’t a chief.”

Spokane Fire manager Mike Lopez once led local AMR

Spokane’s new integrated medical services manager was in charge of the local American Medical Response operation during at least some of the years that the ambulance company systematically overbilled city residents, documents show. But city officials say the problems began after billing duties were moved out of the Spokane office to AMR’s regional headquarters in Seattle between late 2002 and early 2003 as part of a corporate restructuring. The company agreed to a nearly $1 million settlement in 2010 over years of lucrative billing flaws involving Spokane residents.

New ambulance contract cuts rate $100

Going to the hospital in an ambulance is going to get a little cheaper for many Spokane County residents next month. The Ambulance Service Board that includes almost all Spokane County fire departments and districts just negotiated a three-year contract extension with American Medical Response that includes a $100 drop in price effective in February.

New ambulance contract cuts rate $100

Going to the hospital in an ambulance is going to get a little cheaper for many Spokane County residents next month. The Ambulance Service Board that includes almost all Spokane County fire departments and districts just negotiated a three-year contract extension with American Medical Response that includes a $100 drop in price effective in February.

Rural/Metro could present some competition for AMR

An ambulance company with operations in 28 states has moved into Spokane. Rural/Metro Corp. has hired 30 people to staff two ambulances. Although the company does not yet have any contracts, local company officials expect to quickly find business.

Fine-tuning contract between fire districts, AMR

Five months after the new contract between American Medical Response and most Spokane County fire districts took effect things seem to be going well. AMR has been tweaking where it stages ambulances to lower response times, which have been dropping steadily for the most part. The only hiccup has been rural areas with few ambulance responses, said Spokane Valley Fire Department Deputy Chief Larry Rider, who is administering the contract. AMR is required to meet response times 90 percent of the time. In urban areas AMR must respond in less than 10 minutes for a “code” response with lights and sirens. The times are longer for “no code” responses and locations in rural areas.

Fine-tuning the contract

Five months after the new contract between American Medical Response and most Spokane County fire districts took effect things seem to be going well. AMR has been tweaking where it stages ambulances to lower response times, which have been dropping steadily for the most part. The only hiccup has been rural areas with few ambulance responses, said Spokane Valley Fire Department Deputy Chief Larry Rider, who is administering the contract. AMR is required to meet response times 90 percent of the time. In urban areas AMR must respond in less than 10 minutes for a “code” response with lights and sirens. The times are longer for “no code” responses and locations in rural areas.

AMR settles billing lawsuit

American Medical Response, Spokane’s ambulance service provider, agreed to pay back just under $1 million, plus interest, received as a result of overbilling more than 12,000 Spokane residents over six years. “We are pleased with the result for the citizens,” said attorney John Giesa, who represented clients in a class-action lawsuit initially brought by Lori Davis-Bailey, Lorraine and Doug Bacon and Tony Bamonte.

AMR agrees to settlement in overbilling case

American Medical Response, Spokane’s ambulance service provider, agreed to pay back just under $1 million, plus interest, received as a result of overbilling more than 12,000 Spokane residents over six years.

Ambulance ride turns costly for north Spokane man

Howard Hickman never had a problem with his health insurance coverage. The retired Union Pacific employee and Navy veteran said he has 100 percent coverage rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs and health insurance through Union Pacific. And he has Medicare. So he was quite surprised when American Medical Response, an ambulance company based in Modesto, Calif., threatened to send him to collection over his last ambulance ride.

Most county fire departments agree to new contract with AMR

After years of discussion, a group of almost all Spokane County fire departments and fire districts, led by Spokane Valley Fire, have finally agreed to an ambulance contract with American Medical Response. The only groups not included in the contract are the city of Spokane, which has its own contract with AMR, and Fire Districts 2 and 12, which have their own ambulance service. Part of Fire District 4 in north Spokane County also is not included in the contract area because it is served by Deer Park Ambulance.

Shared Spokane County ambulance system on hold

Hopes for creating one ambulance system throughout most of Spokane County are fading after city and Spokane Valley fire leaders opted against the concept. Fire officials created the Ambulance Service Board to consider building an ambulance system that would have the same rates and similar response-time requirements throughout the county.

City advised to quicken emergency responses

Relative to other cities, Spokane pays low rates for ambulance transportation. What it gives up in return is time. A consultant studying Spokane’s emergency medical services said last week that city leaders should consider paying more for ambulance service for quicker response.

Ambulance company drops out of bid process

Three ambulance companies have expressed interest in bidding for a contract with most of the fire departments in Spokane County, but one has dropped out. Spokane Valley Fire Department Chief Mike Thompson said Paramedics Plus of Tyler, Texas, said in a letter May 4 that company officials didn’t think they would have enough time to prepare a bid.

Regional ambulance contract bids sought

A consortium of fire districts and departments in Spokane County started soliciting bids March 27 for a regional ambulance contract. Spokane Valley Fire Department Chief Mike Thompson said officials conducted a conference Monday to answer questions from potential bidders, and bidding will close May 27. He said three companies have expressed interest in bidding, including American Medical Response, which provides most ambulance service in Spokane County.

Spokane County accepting bids for ambulances

A new consortium of fire departments throughout Spokane County plans to solicit bids next month for what officials hope will be a money-saving, performance-improving contract for ambulance service. “It’s pretty exciting that we’re getting this close,” said Spokane Valley Fire Chief Mike Thompson. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of bids we might get.”

City forgoes countywide ambulance contract

The city of Spokane will continue to go it alone for ambulance service. The Spokane City Council on Monday rejected in a tie vote a proposal to join a board that will take bids for a countywide ambulance contract.