Sure, the Michigan Senate at long last passed Medicaid expansion this week, but it’s still not advisable to have a medical crisis in the state — and it could get worse. It seems Rep. Matt Lori (R-59) has a plan to make it even more difficult for emergency medical services to reach you in your time of need.
A bill the Republican lawmaker introduced just prior to summer recess is getting some negative feedback from communities, particularly in rural areas. House Bill 4785, of which Lori is the sole sponsor, would create thirty new fees and fines on licensing of emergency responders, and would increase existing fees in 33 other related areas.
The Western Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs gathered at their annual summer fish boil, and the topic was at the top of their discussion. The Ludington Daily News reports:
The WMAFC cited a House Fiscal Agency analysis of the bill, which stated, as proposed, the bill could triple the $410,000 now raised by existing fees — and thus triple the costs to departments and communities.
If the bill passes, the association sees it as a possibility that some departments would be forced out of the medical response service.
“It’s a big concern,” Ludington Fire Chief Jerry Funk said. “It’s a lot of money for us rural departments, and for all departments.”
Lori told 7&4 News that he intends to rework the bill and have a new version up for consideration by early October. The current version is a non-starter with firefighters and House Democrats:
“We need to find a way to pay for it. It could end up costing a volunteer firefighter $1,200. We don’t need to put up any barriers between communities and volunteer firefighters,” said Rep. Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids.
Here are the pay scales for emergency responders in Michigan (source: Michigan.gov)
|Call Volume||EMT – Basic||EMT – Intermediate||EMT- Paramedic||EMT – Field Training Officer|
|Less than 1,000||$20,201-$42,022||$22,031-$41,210||$30,426-$49,371||—|
|30,001 – 50,000||$17,899-$51,987||$17,060-$26,487||$22,088-$57,207||$35,617-$52,252|
|Greater than 90,000||$20,615-$33,782||$22,066-$38,373||$26,674-$52,444||$32,213-$49,280|
Do we really want to be discouraging entry-level workers in the field by slamming them with these high fees — on top of their student loans and starvation wages?
It’s time for Michigan lawmakers to refocus on the health and well-being of the citizens of the state, and stop thinking about what the political dragoons from the Tea Party might threaten.
Real Republicans need to grow a pair.
Amy Kerr Hardin