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Emergency services suffer pandemic woes

Upper Bucks patients are not reimbursing their local emergency service provider.
In a presentation to Springfield Township supervisors last week, Upper Bucks Regional EMS Director Ryan Pankoe revealed that residents treated by UBREMS kept nearly $40,000 they received from insurance companies rather than reimburse UBREMS. Pankoe said the figure was double last year’s figure, and acknowledged the EMS provider had “not a lot of recourse” to recoup the payments.
Residents in Nockamixon Township withheld more than $9,000; for Springfield, it was more than $8,000.
The thousands taken represent another blow for the Revere-based organization, which typically would use such money for capital expenses such as vehicles. The provider, which is requesting $95,777 in assistance from the township, is also facing two unfunded state mandates: a stretcher restraining system in each of its four vehicles at a total cost of $160,000, and four required defibrillators at an estimated $140,000.
Supervisor Chairman Jim Nilsen, who sits on the UBREMS board, said the loss of reimbursements were not an issue 10 to 12 years ago and cited the Affordable Care Act with its high-deductible plans as a major driver. “They have to pay more into it, so they keep more,” observed Supervisor Jim Hopkins.
In other business, the township canceled Community Day because of Covid-19 concerns. Expressing regret, Supervisor Bill Ryker told board members the event would not be possible in an era of social distancing. Chairman Nilsen agreed. “The most prudent thing to do is take a pass this year.”
Nilsen said the community could use the months ahead to create a new and improved event and promote it on social media. The board sent a tentative date of Sept. 25, 2021.
The ongoing pandemic is also affecting the Springtown Volunteer Fire Company’s finances. At its annual budget request presentation, spokesman Jay Fuggiti estimated the company lost 11 percent of its annual income because it could not rent out the fire hall for functions. The organization is seeking another $147,000 this year, and is putting aside $50,000 annually toward its major expense in 2034: a Quint replacement (quintuple combination pumper) with a price tag of between $400,000 to $500,000.
Also at the meeting, board members unanimously appointed David Bretz to the historic commission. Bretz became a persistent thorn in the township’s side when he spearheaded a 2018 campaign to stop the use of chemicals in Peppermint Park, which he blamed for the deaths of his two dogs. He will serve on the six-member body until Dec. 31, 2022.

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