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New county EMS agency leads to higher fees for local hospitals
EMS graphic

Stanislaus County will soon be operating its own Emergency Medical Services agency as a division of the Sheriff’s Department, following a Board of Supervisors vote on May 17.

Since the early 1980s, Stanislaus County has partnered with the Mountain Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency — along with Alpine, Amador, Calaveras and Mariposa counties — to administer local EMS responsibilities. Stanislaus County served notice in March 2021 that it was breaking away from the Mountain-Valley EMS joint powers authority to create and operate its own single-county agency. The other counties will continue as partners in a four-county EMS agency and hope to have the required staffing in June.

“When we embarked on this path, we didn’t expect it to go smoothly,” said Supervisor Vito Chiesa. “We’ve had hiccups on the way, but we are going in the right direction.”

As a local EMS agency, Stanislaus County will be responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating the emergency medical system.

A primary source of revenue for local EMS agencies is derived from fees charged to hospitals and ambulance companies for the cost of administration and oversight. Under the new Stanislaus County EMS Agency, fees will be increasing 12 percent across the board and higher for areas like trauma and stroke centers where more staff time is estimated to be needed to enhance services.

The fees approved last week represent a total increase of $348,944 for hospitals that have trauma, heart attack and stroke centers. The county held onto money in an EMS enhancement fund to pay for $390,650 in startup costs for the new EMS agency and supervisors voted to shift $174,472 from that fund to subsidize half the fee increase for hospitals for a year.

The annual fees for the two Level II trauma centers in Stanislaus County will increase by $78,490 from $100,000 to $178,490. The fees for hospital stroke centers will rise to about $65,000, a $40,000 increase, and centers for emergency treatment of patients suffering from myocardial infarction will be assessed $48,500, a $16,500 increase.

Hospitals could pay substantially higher fees for heart attack specialty centers, a $16,500 increase, and stroke centers, a $40,000 increase, because of the workload of monitoring and coordinating those centers.