Mayor Chris Beutler announced today that Lincoln Fire and Rescue (LFR) has paid off an interfund loan from the City's General Fund. The loan was used to begin ambulance service in 2001 and to address reimbursement issues and reached a peak of more than $2 million in December 2007. The loan was repaid after the City's Emergency Medical Service (EMS) fund finished in the black for the third and probably fourth straight year.
"Not only is LFR meeting its bottom line, they have paid back every dime of the money borrowed with interest to help the service through hard times," the Mayor said. "Our firefighter paramedics can proudly state they are members of not only an outstanding life-saving organization, but a successful business organization as well."
Beutler said public and private ambulance services across the nation have struggled with low federal Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements and fewer insured patients. He commended Fire Chief Niles Ford, LFR staff and paramedics for making the changes necessary to create a sustainable organization. "They demonstrated that quality does not have to come at the expense of profitability," he said. "They have shown that Lincoln can afford to employ highly trained professionals and still meet the bottom line."
The City finished the 2006-2007 fiscal year with an $84,863 EMS balance, the 2007-2008 fiscal year with a $328,260 balance, and the 2008-2009 fiscal year with a $629,995 balance. The current fiscal year ends August 31.
In addition to controlling costs and improving bill collection, LFR has implemented several changes recommend by a 2006 ad hoc committee, including a 2007 rate increase, contracting with the County for EMS service outside the City limits, and contracting with private ambulance companies to provide stand-by services at events.