I cannot state this strongly enough: I would rather walk, bleeding and limping, to the hospital before I let your Tracy firefighters lay their hands on me. You have found a way to turn one of the best-regarded functions of government (of which there are few) into a cash cow.
Just as the Tracy Fire Department celebrates its 100th anniversary, its mission statement could be changed to “Protect and collect.” Residents must now consider their family finances before calling for help. Travelers might want to endure their chest pain while they drive west to Livermore, where they can receive better service. It is a slap in the face to firefighters serving the public.
As a 20-year firefighter in the state of California, I am horrified and disgusted that fire departments are making this move to double-charge for services, extorting citizens in time of need.
What say the Tracy Firefighters Local 3355? Firefighters standing behind this double-taxation need to disavow all claim to the title “hero” and replace it with “revenue agent.”
For nonresidents, Tracy has imposed a higher fee than for residents, implying they are a drain on city funds. Yet your malls, shopping and hotels cater to freeway passers-by. Why would I want to stop, shop or visit Tracy? Since Tracy views me as a revenue target and charges me the “foreigner” rate, why would I summon or welcome your firefighters’ services? I will purchase my gas and fast food elsewhere.
The Contra Costa Times reported one compassionate angle in Tracy’s new policy: “There is no fee if the patient dies.” Thanks for that. It’s nice to know I can die in Tracy for free.
Except, this is a lie! The policy adopted in Resolution 2009-161 states that the fire chief “may” waive the fee, but only if the patient expires before or during fire department care. In many instances, death is not pronounced until after transfer of care to an emergency room physician. The policy only makes the fee waiver an option.
Discriminatory billing, I pray, will be found illegal. It is a cancer that will raise insurance rates statewide without any vote of the people or their Legislature.
This is not free revenue. We will all pay for this, including non-residents who pay insurance premiums. You have found a way to, in effect, tax every resident of this state for services that we already pay for.
Worse, the Florida corporation that Tracy has signed a contract with, ADPI-Intermedix, will get rich from the pockets of Tracy’s injured and sick. Their private medical records will be shared with low-pay data entry clerks, which likewise exposes them to identity theft.
Did you ever serve the citizens as a first-responder firefighter? You are not serving the citizens now, and you are giving those of us who do a black eye.
Is there a “do not resuscitate” form or medical bracelet I can wear when in Tracy? I’ll call a taxi. I don’t want your “help.”
How do you respond?
• Kevin Rice lives in San Luis Obispo, is a firefighter in Southern California and has been involved in the fire service for 20 years.