There's a Michigan bill that is calling for new and increased fees, centered around emergency medical services and it has many fire departments and employees worried.
House Bill 4785 introduced by Rep. Matt Lori, R-Constantine, would raise new and increased fees for individual licenses, agency licenses, and vehicle licenses. The total revenue from the fees will increase from $410,000 to about $1.4 million annually. Rep. Lori says the money from the increase will go to the Department of Community Health.
" It will raise just over a million dollars for the department of community health," said Lori. "The division that handles fire inspections, ambulance inspections, keeps track of ambulance inspections, keeps track of certifications, keeps track of course work for the firefighters and EMT."
"What we're simply trying to now now is just simply raise fees to pay for the current services," said Lori.
The bill will raise costs for many emergency medical services including education programs, ambulance license renewal, medical first response service licenses, and many more. For a complete list of the fees, click here.
"Right now all of our firefighters start out as medical first responders and to get licensed it was no money, zero," said Chief Pat Parker of the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department. "Now that's going to go up to 150 dollars. So where's a young person going to find 150 dollars?"
Parker is a member of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs and says that he is one of many that is fighting against the bill. He says that some departments may not have a problem paying these increased fees, but the departments in rural areas like Northern Michigan, and it's volunteer members, are concerned that the increased fees could turn people away from an EMS career.
"If you get a lot of people that drop out of providing pre-hospital medicine, we're going to have to wait for the hospital based ambulances to come from the bigger communities, the bigger urban communities," said Parker. "I'm not saying that people are going to die, but not have a ready, willing volunteer workforce to come help people, it could potentially happen."
Representative Lori tells 7&4 News that a compromise was reached this week that could help take some of the cost off of the departments.
"We'd be looking for about 1/3 of the proposed revenue would come from the fire fighters, EMS system," said Lori. "The other 2/3 would come from other sources that we're in the process of working out."
Lori says the new language in the bill should have gone out Friday, and that agencies that provide emergency medical care have one week to respond.