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Los Angeles looks at big hike in ambulance fees

A Los Angeles City Fire Department ambulance.
A Los Angeles City Fire Department ambulance.
fourbyfourblazer/Flickr CC

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The Los Angeles City Council's Public Safety Committee Monday approved a nearly 40 percent fee hike in emergency ambulance services provided by the L.A. City Fire Department.

The fee for basic life support on board a city ambulance would go from $712 to $974.
The fee for advanced life support would go from $1,004 to $1,373.

Deputy Fire Chief Emile Mack argued the fee increase was necessary to "maintain the level of emergency medical service" and to avoid further budget cuts at the fire department.

L.A. is grappling with a nearly $500 million budget deficit.

Mack said the fire department shuts down 15 fire trucks and nine ambulance every day as part of its share in reducing spending.

The ambulance fee increase would generate an extra six million dollars a year for the Fire Department. "What we’re trying to attain is closer to cost recovery," Mack said.

L.A. is also considering charging a fee for paramedic services that don’t involve transport to a hospital. Right now, the city doesn’t charge for that. A consultant is studying the proposal.

The City Council would have to approve any hike in ambulance fees, and may consider the proposal as early as this week.