The fire departments and rescue squads of Rappahannock County, all operated by volunteers, are more hard-pressed than ever for funds. The need is so great that the rescue squads are now considering charging the medical insurance of the sick or injured person for the ride to the hospital.
As long as there have been ambulances, there has been no charge for rousing rescue squad people from their beds, their dinner tables, their work or chores to respond when someone is hurt or falls ill. Each rescue squad buys and maintains an ambulance or two, keeps it fueled, makes sure there is air in the tires, and keeps the vehicles clean and ready to run. No one on the stretcher has to pay anything for this.
But now the volunteers, who give so much of their time every week of the year, are short on money. The fundraising breakfasts, bingo games, annual letters asking for donations, and all the other efforts to bring in money simply do not cover all the expenses. A proposal is being floated to charge a few hundred dollars for each ambulance run. The sick and injured themselves are not being asked to pay the freight; the bill goes to the insurance company. It is understood that Medicare and other insurances will cover the fee for an ambulance.
“Not one dollar” will be asked of the patient, according to those supporting the proposal.
There is a strong feeling among those in the county discussing this plan that much depends on the way it is presented, that there will be great disapproval if the idea is put forth as simply charging for ambulance rides. The matter went before the board of supervisors on Dec. 2, and will come up again at the board’s January meeting.