|The End of YourCall|
|By Administration Raechel Ehlers|
|June 7, 2018|
2017 was a time of many changes at Vashon Island Fire and Rescue. With a new administration, came a thorough examination of the districts position is regards to finances, staffing, facilities and long term planning. With the investigation complete came the understanding that the district was not currently on a stable footing and immediate action needed to be taken.
The district took several actions for stability, one of which was the Fees for Transport Policy. Although, this policy had been signed off by commissioners in the past it was reassessed, signed and implemented in June of 2017. This allowed the District to collect funds from the insurance provider of patients who had been transported from Vashon to a hospital. These funds would help support the District, via reimbursing the costs of emergency transports.
After the implementation of Fees for Transport the District Developed the YourCall membership program as a service to the Island. The YourCall Program was designed to offset patient costs, by allowing them to pay a yearly fee instead. Vashon Island Fire and Rescue would be able to collect the funds paid by patients’ insurance providers and the $75 yearly fee covered any cost to patients for a BLS Transport to the hospital that would have exceeded what the insurance would cover on their behalf.
The program was modeled after AirLift Northwest’s “AirCare” program, which has been successful for many years. Vashon Island Fire and Rescue was the first to create such a program for BLS Transports but Administration, Commissioners, State Auditors and Legal counsel agreed this was a valid model to emulate and so the program launched with a soft roll out and a prorated yearly fee at the end of 2017.
The program was used successfully by island residents as it covered YourCall members, spouses and legal dependents. However, in 2018 the program went under review by the State’s Insurance Commissioner after an anonymous complaint was filed that the “Your Call” Program was actually insurance. Vashon Island Fire and Rescue readily complied with all information requested by the Insurance Commissioner’s office and answered any questions they had.
While the law allows an exemption for Air Transports, there is currently no specific language for fire districts transporting BLS, despite fire districts being not for profit. The District is disheartened by the ruling but is complying.
The District is disappointed to no longer be able to offer this service to Vashon and will be issuing refunds to “Your Call” member’s subscriptions for the May 28, 2018-May 27, 2019 year. Checks will be mailed to members in the beginning of July. Those who bought prorated subscriptions for the May 29, 2017-May 27, 2018 have had their membership honored and will not be receiving a refund.
Vashon Island Fire and Rescue is proud to have been able to lead the way by creating this program and will continue to investigate a means to modify the program so as to bring such cost savings back to our Community.