The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Ray LaFond

New EMS District has more hoops to jump through

Letter from the Community


To the Editor:

As most of you know, Klickitat County established an Emergency Medical Service District (EMS) early this year. Formation was dependent upon the passage of a regular tax levy in the amount of 30 mils (.003 percent of the current assessed property value); the levy passed on the August primary ballot with a nearly 70 percent yes vote.

But first let us go back a bit. Each of the hospital districts were having problems funding their Advanced Life Support ambulance services; in fact, they were falling short a combined total of nearly $500,000. They petitioned the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to form an EMS district under the provisions of RCW 36.32.480; after much discussion and consideration, the BOCC agreed to form such a district. Districts formed under this RCW are not the same as those we are familiar with (fire, water, and so forth): EMS districts are governed by bylaws; the board is not elected but is appointed by the BOCC; and, they are dependent upon a number of interlocal agreements to operate.

OK, now let’s get back to the update.

Klickitat Valley Health and Skyline have been working along with the BOCC to set in place all of the required licenses and permits. This means working with state and federal agencies. Most of the permits have been put in place. Licenses are another matter. The state Department of Health is very stringent on how many health care agencies are allowed in any county or region; this means that one of our hospital districts will have to give up their license in order to allow the EMS District to obtain its license. Also, the federal and state agencies in control of Medicare and Medicaid will not deal with the new district until the state issues are satisfied. And, being bureaucratic in nature, this will take some time and effort, which means that the new EMS District cannot bill Medicare or Medicaid for services until everything is in place (estimated at 90 to 120 days).

The bylaws have been adopted and are being implemented.

In short, this is not as simple as we had first thought.

In addition to the regulatory tasks, the County Assessor has reduced the assessed valuation of the county significantly, thereby reducing the anticipated tax funds required to make this process work. The BOCC will have to take another look at the budget.

Much effort, sweat, and tears have been shed by the folks at KVH, Skyline and the ambulance company; we owe them and the BOCC a great deal of gratitude and applause.


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