OLYMPIA - An idea brought to Rep. Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside by Zillah resident Brad Bergener, to give patients confined to a stretcher a low cost option for travel to and from medical facilities, became state law this past Tuesday.
Bergener said Newhouse's work, House Bill 1237, will significantly improve the cabulance industry and save taxpayers millions of dollars.
Newhouse's measure will allow specially equipped vehicles other than ambulances to transport patients in non-emergency situations. The Sunnyside legislator worked closely with Bergener, owner of Bergener Medstar Cabulance, Inc., to craft the bill. Bergener, who testified in Olympia in support of the idea, said the new law raises the bar on industry standards.
"Rep. Newhouse was methodical in how he created the language in this bill," said Bergener. "It raised the bar on industry standards, and we are more than ready to step up to the plate with increased training.
"There will be winners all the way around. The public will see a higher quality service with less cost, and taxpayers will save money," Bergener added.
Newhouse said although a similar bill was introduced nearly 20 years ago by his father, the late Sen. Irv Newhouse, he was pleased Bergener brought the idea to reintroduce the bill to him, particularly at a time when health care costs continue to be on the rise.
"Patients face enormous medical expenses and this will help them save a tremendous amount of money in health care costs," Newhouse said. "It gives medically stable patients who need to be moved from one facility to another a more affordable option than an ambulance.
"It's not uncommon for patients to need transportation that can accommodate a stretcher, but they aren't in an emergency situation which would require an ambulance.
"Being transported by ambulance may cost up to $1,000 and it also takes the vehicle out of service for emergency situations," Newhouse continued. "My legislation provides another option for patients."