commission defers item to add ambulance firms
solve a problem health care officials identify as slow ambulance
response, backers of a proposed county ordinance say adding more
company names to a system monopolized by three private firms will
get people to emergency rooms faster and possibly save lives.
opponents said the change will trigger an unfavorable "sink-or-swim"
environment for private ambulance companies and drive up county-set
survey of seven counties nationwide shows that at a price range
of $175-$290, Miami-Dade County has the lowest patient rates for
county commissioners, saying they needed health officials to do
a cost analysis before making a decision, deferred the issue Tuesday.
of the ordinance argued opening doors to more companies will not
drive up costs and would give patients more freedom to choose the
survey that highlighted the county's low rates indicated Miami-Dade
also has the worst private units-to-population ratio at 1 ambulance
for 27,000 people.
applicants go forward," said a spokesperson for Broward-based
AMC Ambulance, which she said has sought the opportunity to provide
ambulance service in Miami-Dade since 1994. "The elderly and
ill are waiting three to four hours to get to the hospital. The
results are clear. We need the ordinance."
representatives from the county's three private ambulance firms
Florida Medi-Van, Medi-Car and Randle Eastern said
the system works fine as is.
it ain't broke, don't fix it," said Miguel De Grandy, a lobbyist
for American Medical Response, which owns Randle Eastern and Medi-Car.
"Over-competition in many markets drives up costs and results
in less calls for individual companies. Flaws with the ordinance
may lead to detrimental consequences in what is today a first-class
ambulance rescue system."
Medical Response, with 73 ambulances, controls 92% of the county's
private ambulance business.
other 8% of the market is under the wing of Florida Medi-Van, a
six-ambulance company, operating under county law since 1990.
Gomez, president of Florida Medi-Van, said the company may go out
of business if the ordinance passes.
company's future is in great limbo. Since 1997 we've had a decrease
in call volume. We used to get 45-50 calls a day and today we get
between 30 and 35," Ms. Gomez said.
not asking for sympathy. I'm just asking you to re-consider the
Dennis C. Moss and Barbara Carey-Shuler said a slow increase in
the number of ambulance companies in the market could prevent established
businesses from losing revenue.
intent of the ordinance is not to affect existing companies, backers
said, but to address the needs of those using private ambulance
said they plan to advertise the issue before the public. They said
the bottom line is the community needs access to ambulances.