In November, a community task force pulled together by the Evergreen Fire Department began meeting to study and make recommendations to the district board about significant financial concerns impacting the district.
According to Fire Chief Mike Weege, the final meeting in January 2016 was also the District Board meeting. "There was a lot of discussion again about expanding the capability of EMS (Emergency Medical Services) to include the upcoming Community Paramedicine. There is legislation in the works that would define Community Paramedicine and put it under the control of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
"The District Board felt there are too many moving parts and too many unknowns about the future of pre-hospital care to support dividing the fire department by breaking off EMS."
The task force did support the fire department's need for additional funding, Weege reported.
Overview of revenue shortfalls:
- Dramatic decrease in property taxes (2011-2015)
- EMS billing as a result of
- No-fault auto insurance (shifting medical coverage from auto insurance to a person's healthcare policy)
- Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (Medicare assignment rule phased in over 4 years, reducing from 80% to 50% to 30% to 0)
- Government Sequestration in 2013 (loss of 6% of the total reimbursement of Medicare over 2 years; plus decreases and expiration of rural bonuses)
- The Affordable Care Act (Medicare and Medicaid are essentially unfunded mandates
- in Evergreen 68% of EMS patients are 60 or older and Medicaid patients have increased 530% in past 2 years
- mandated write-offs were projected to be $510,000 in 2015, approximately 1/3 of what was invoiced)
- Strategic Planning focusing on wildfire protection and prevention