Wednesday 25, September 1985
Residents Will Have to Pay for Ambulance Service To Medical Center If State’s Plan is Implemented
Within the next several months. Princeton residents can expect to receive a bill for $340 each time they use the services of a lifemobile To date, all volunteer Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad service has been free, including the use of the lifemobile.
It is still uncertain whether private insurance companies will cover the fee.
Under the plan, Helene Fuld Hospital in Trenton will manage a fleet of three lifemobiles. These will be stationed in Hamilton, the Princeton area. and Trenton. and will respond to all lifemobile calls for the five Mercer County hospitals: Princeton, Hamilton, St. Francis. Mercer, and Helene Fuld.
The Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad still plans to maintain and send out its own rig, says Squad President Mark Freda “Any volunteer squad that wants to and out its own lifemobile can do so, but Helene Fuld will send out one too.
Forty percent of Princeton’s calls involve the lifemobile.
Right now. two paramedics are required to staff a lifemobiles. If the Princeton rig were to arrive with the requisite number of paramedics; and if, knowing the call WIN being handled properly. Helene Fuld did not send out its lifemobile, the patient would still have to pay the $340 fee.
In addition, the Princeton rig is an ambulance; the Helene Fuld lifemobile is not. Thus, says Mr. Freda, the Princeton unit will have to meet the Fuld lifemobiles at the scene in order to transport the victim to Princeton Medical Center.
It then becomes the responsibility of the medical center both to bill the patient and to pay the $340 tee to Helene Fuld.
The state insists that this service is to be covered by medical insurance, says Princeton Medical Center President Dennis Doody “But the private insurance companies have not agreed — they’re still looking at He added, however. that Medicare will cover it
Mr. Doody recalled that in 1983 the medical center was told that it was to pay Helene Fuld for lifemobile service even though the sonic, was only provided to the three Trenton hospitals. The medical center and Hamilton Hospital, which amount for 50 percent of the total countywide use, refused to pay
Late in 1984, the state came up with the countywide plan that is now close to being implemented. “When this goes into effect, the Helene Fuld lifemobiles will serve Princeton and Hamilton too. We will be expected to bill for the service,” said Mr. Doody.
He said that be would like to keep the voluntary system alive as long as possible and maintain the Princeton pro-gram as it has been for decades.
“But I must add that, as an observer, the addition of paramedic services to the community is a positive step This addition has got to be helpful. ”
He noted that there had been some disagreement among First Aid Squad members as to the value of the Helene Fuld program Mr Freda, however, believes that the new program will hurt the squad.
“People will get a bill when we leave — even though we never have, and never will, charge for lifemobile service This could adversely affect our fund drive and could have an adverse effect on the volunteer system “I don’t know how badly we’ll be hurt.”
Heads of the five county hospitals are planning to meet this week to discuss the pro-gram and to find out exactly when it will be implemented. Fuld officials have set a tentative, start-up by Thanksgiving.