LOS ANGELES — Flat rates for private ambulance services in Los Angeles are set to increase for the first time in five years after a City Council vote on Wednesday.
The ordinance requires a second vote next Wednesday to pass.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has not adjusted private ambulance industry rates in more than five years due to staffing issues and the coronavirus pandemic, according to a staff report. Several private ambulance company representatives told a Transport Committee meeting in May that the increases were badly needed for an industry that is facing staff shortages and wage increases.
The rate for a private ambulance response for a call with basic equipment and personnel is now $1,305, and a response to a call requiring a paramedic is $1,852. The new rates are based on an 18.5% increase in the Consumer Price Index for transportation and medical services in the Southern California region since 2016, according to a Department of Transportation analysis.
“Private paramedics have been waiting for this for a long time because their costs have continued to rise at a torrid rate and that will help keep it going a bit,” Councilman Paul Koretz said at a transportation committee meeting on Tuesday.
Some hospital operators who use private ambulance services have expressed concerns about increased fares, which Koretz said would be taken into consideration.
“But right now, I think it’s just too difficult for private paramedics,” Koretz said.
For non-ambulatory passenger services, whose rates have not changed since 2012, the cost of a call answer for a passenger in a wheelchair is now $46, and a call answer for a passenger in bedding is $116.50 per person. These rates are based on a 20.2% increase in the CPI for these services over the past decade.
At the May committee meeting, Councilman Mike Bonin, chair of the committee, said he heard criticism that there was too much time between rate adjustments, raising the stakes for everyone more than necessary. The committee asked the Department of Transportation to consider how often it should adjust fares for these services.