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Grandview Council in favor of bailing out ambulance service

GRANDVIEW - Determined to keep the same ambulance services currently offered to Grandview residents, the Grandview City Council agreed to pay $92,000 to Prosser Memorial Hospital at a study session held last night.

The money will come from an inter-local agreement between Grandview and the Prosser hospital and will fund the ambulance service for 2008.

Prosser Memorial Hospital CEO Jim Tavary presented a plan to the council last night that is geared towards solving what Tavary said is $425,000 in losses each year.

The Prosser ambulance service covers approximately 1,000 square miles that includes Grandview, Mabton, and parts of Yakima and Benton counties.

In 2006, an audit showed Prosser's ambulance service had been receiving cost-based reimbursement from Medicare when it should have only received a federal fee schedule reimbursement. The latter only pays approximately 55 percent of costs accrued by the ambulance service while cost-based reimbursement paid 100 percent.

Due to the finding the Prosser ambulance service had to pay back $300,000, it moved finances into the red at the tune of 425,000 a year.

Tavary told the council last night the ambulance service can not keep offering its services while sustaining these kinds of losses and appealed for help.

To help in the short term, Prosser Memorial Hospital is asking Grandview, Prosser, Benton County, Yakima County and Mabton to pony up $250,000, with Sunnyside Community Hospital, Kadlec Medical Center and Prosser Memorial Hospital kicking in the remaining $175,000.

Grandview's share comes to $92,000.

"We can't talk about quality of life if we can't offer medical services," Grandview Councilman Mike Bren said.

The Grandview Council would like to see an EMS District formed that would turn over the responsibility of funding the ambulance service to property owners.

In order for this to happen, the Yakima County commissioners would have to form the district. After that hurdle is cleared the property owners must vote to fund the district.

Tavary said he estimates the tax would be between 20¢ and 30¢ with a cap of 50¢ per $1,000 of property value.

If property owners refuse to vote in an EMS taxing district, then Tavary will be back in 2009 asking for money from the five jurisdictions.

An ambulance utility tax is another route available to Grandview and the other jurisdictions.

Council will formally vote on the inter-local agreement with Prosser Memorial Hospital at the next council meeting.

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