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Ill. Ambulance And Fire Agencies See Budgets Crunched

(National Institutes of Health)

Ambulance and fire agencies in Illinois have seen their budgets crunched. Some clients pay using Medicaid,  the Illinois-backed insurance for the poor. But the state is months behind on those payments.

According to Josh Ross, operations manager for America Ambulance in Springfield, Illinois is nearly six months behind. That's a total of $330,000.

"The Medicaid problem is kind of a double-edged sword," Ross said.  "On one is the fact we're not receiving the payments, but the other is the fact that the actual reimbursement is so much lower."

In Southern Illinois, the Jackson County Ambulance Service doesn't always receive full reimbursement for supplies like medicine and gasoline when responding to a far-away call. It has to cover those costs by using money from property taxes.

Representative Donald Moffitt, a Republican from Gilson, says not all emergency services have that option.

"Worst case scenario, they actually could potentially go out of business or fold or cease to provide service," Moffitt said.

Moffitt co-chaired a special House committee last year that examined problems EMS providers face. The committee made recommendations to the state legislature, like finding new revenue sources.

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