Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 3, 2013

Another View: Don't put tax on emergency personnel

---- — Emergency medical technicians are there when we need them, but a new proposal in Lansing might make it more expensive for them to do their job.

The state Legislature is looking at changes that would significantly increase fees for EMS workers to do their job.

House Bill 4785 is part of the state’s 2014 budget. The anticipated fee increases total about $1 million. It has been built into the 2014 Department of Community Health budget.

If approved, the bill would:

n Increase existing fees for licensure of emergency medical services operations, vehicles and personnel.

n Establish new fees for emergency medical services education providers and programs.

n Establish new administrative fines for noncompliance violations.

n Strikes reporting language regarding a report required in July 2000.

Current fee rates were established in 1991 for EMS operations, vehicles and personnel. These costs currently range from $25 to $175 for licensure. The bill proposes changes to establish fees at $20 to $500 for licensure, including new ones.

According to state officials, the argument for the change is that the increased fees is needed to maintain the current licensing and regulatory program for emergency medical services personnel. This cost would be borne by the local emergency service.

We argue that the increase will hurt communities struggling to make already difficult budget decisions, and it may also persuade people to seek out alternative career choices if the cost to do the job becomes too much.

We’d all like to have a reliable, expert-filled community of emergency medical personnel, and having them makes quality of life in our local communities good.

If these fee increases hurt this service, will it be worth it? We urge state officials to find other ways to raise revenue without gouging the providers of essential emergency services.

Grand Haven Tribune