Balto. County seeks halt to fees for ambulances

Ruppersberger asks Carroll to stop billing

February 02, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger has asked Carroll's volunteer fire and ambulance companies to stop billing Baltimore County residents for their services.

In a letter to the Carroll County commissioners, Ruppersberger said he intends to seek legislation to block the companies from charging his county's citizens if the matter is not resolved within two weeks.

Referring to a recent meeting with the Carroll commissioners in Annapolis, Ruppersberger wrote: "This will confirm our understanding that it is your intention that neither Baltimore nor Howard County will be charged for services that are rendered by the Carroll County volunteer fire and rescue companies."

Julia Walsh Gouge, president of the Board of County Commissioners, gave copies of Ruppersberger's letter to members of the Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association who were meeting with the board yesterday on unrelated matters.

Carroll's ambulance companies began billing for services last month.

Bob Cumberland, first vice president of the county's fire association, said he doubted whether his organization would agree to stop billing Baltimore County residents for service.

"We went into this [billing] agreement with the previous Board of Commissioners so we could provide 24-hour service at four companies," Cumberland said. "Without this billing, we could not afford to provide 24-hour coverage."

Cumberland emphasized that Carroll ambulance services are billed to the insurance companies of those who receive emergency assistance, not to the individuals. Those lacking insurance are not charged.

Bob Alexander, fire association president, said he will provide statistics that show Carroll companies in Manchester and Hampstead provide the bulk of emergency services to the northwest corner of Baltimore County, mainly in Arcadia, Boring and Glyndon.

Gouge said the board will get the number of calls for service in Baltimore County and "be up front with Mr. Ruppersberger."

Gouge said she would would oppose any legislation to prevent Carroll County volunteer companies from billing out-of-county residents.

"We'd have to support what our [fire association] is telling us, that they can't otherwise provide 24-hour service in Taneytown, Manchester, Westminster and Sykesville," she said.

Pub Date: 2/02/99

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