“Read the material on the problem for this assignment below and write a 5 page paper on how you would handle this problem and what groups you would enlist to assist you. (This problem is adapted from an actual situation that occurred in New Haven, Connecticut and New York, New York recently and also in many communities around the country.) Post this in Assignment Three.
You are a fire commissioner in a small city that is struggling to even pay for the needed services for the community in these difficult financial times. One thing that has come to the attention of just about everybody on the fire commission as well as in the rest of the city administration is that many places are looking to bill insurance companies for fire department services. It is estimated that such a program could generate between $50,000 and $300,000 a year for your city according to some estimates. You also found that many of the surrounding local departments have been charging Medicare, Medicaid and health insurance companies for emergency medical services provided by the fire department, so there is precedence in the area. What seems to be gathering interest is that perhaps automobile insurance could pay the cost of responding to a serious motor vehicle accident which of course ties up equipment for quite a while, expands supplies, and uses most of the manpower available on a shift. The emergency manager for the city is pushing heavily to get not only billing for EMS and paramedic response but also for even a response to a house fire from fire insurance. The general consensus seems to be that the insurance companies already include that coverage in their policies so it would not cost individuals anything additional. It seems at City Hall they are saying all they want is to simply seek to recover costs that are already covered as reimbursable under insurance policies. The mayor has been heard to tell everyone that he does not want to be a municipality that leaves money on the table when there’s money to be picked up. In fact, he’s thinking of billing insurance companies for auto accidents anywhere from $350-$650 each, depending on the severity. He even told a reporter that technical rescues should be more expensive say $1000. He went on to say that hazardous materials responses could generate perhaps $1500 or more per call and for any commercial and industrial fires $750, $1000, perhaps more than that. If there was a major incident the city wants the department to itemize claims for damaged equipment and replacement of materials. The city administration was told at a meeting with a billing company that has been doing this for other departments has recovered upwards of $70,000 for fire departments after alarms. To put it mildly this is not popular with the Insurance Association and is not been popular in areas where it is been put in. Many citizens argue that it is an unfair “double tax.” In fact you found out that the state of Florida approved a bill that bans the practice but you’re still not sure how far that got. Citizens are up in arms because they say they are paying twice for the same emergency services that once came through their tax dollars alone before and now the city wants both tax dollars and insurance money which means that their insurance rates are going to rise. One of the big complaints from local businesses and industries is that it will destroy jobs and drive them out of town. Many say that since taxes exist to pay for fire and rescue services it is unfair that they should collect these fees from local residents. In fact, many people are saying why not just collect the fees on people who are not from the community. One of the other big claims is the companies that collect the money for the cities have a stake in collecting because they get a percentage of that.
Your city is also running into some resistance over red light cameras that have been installed by a private company that maintains them, fines people for going through red lights and then sends out a bill. When paid they send a percentage on to the city. One of the biggest complaints that you have heard from citizens have been that the city isn’t getting the revenue that it should be getting from this company and in fact the company is doing well and the city is not. You have a problem. You need to fund the department but you need to get support from the citizens for whatever is done and you have to look at this to see whether or not it has really worked anywhere. For your assignment research these insurance funding efforts, and develop a document stating your position for presentation to the city fathers.